11th-Graders Create Powerful Films about Family, History

Last school year, communications students at Hand in Hand's Jerusalem high school worked in teams to produce three movies. On June 28, 2011, the students screened their works for friends, families and faculty. The audience admired not only the films' subject matter — profiles of inspirational family members — but also the technical abilities of the students.

All 11th graders at the Jerusalem school must take a communications course. Communications is a requirement because it teaches critical thinking and technical skills helpful for the future of Israeli teens.  Learning to write, film, produce, direct, edit and to master sound and lighting can open up doors — especially for kids with coexistence values and a message they would like to present to the world.

Student director Mustafa Hussein's team filmed his grandmother, who told  the story of her life and her attachment to her home.  Jamie Einstein Bergmain interviewed his grandfather, who revealed his  pride that Jamie studies at Hand in Hand.  “Not only have you learned the Arabic language," he said, "but you have become true friends with the other students in the school, without any distinction of race, religion, language.” 

Razan Munayer's team filmed her aunt who lives in Bethlehem.  The family home is now surrounded by the separation wall, which dwarfs the house and has cut it off from neighbors and the life of the neighborhood. 

“When we entered this Communication Elective Subject, it was like entering a new life," Razan said. "We really knew nothing about it. After days and days with our teacher, we learned how to use the camera, how to use the microphone, how to film, how to edit and make a successful movie. It was really hard at first because we only had one camera and one mic, and we all had to sit together to watch how to use it and then try ourselves one by one. But then Hand in Hand was able to buy new equipment, so we had the opportunity to use the camera more often and take it home or go around the school to interview teachers.  We even used it to go out of the school, meet people in the street and interview them. We watched a lot of movies to learn how to make them properly”.

Then it came time for each team to make its own movie. Each group appointed a cameraman, soundman and a director.  Each director was tasked with picking a family member as the subject of the movie.  

“After filming the movie and going through all the fun and hard moments, we had to edit the material," Razan explained.  "We worked ay and night to edit our movies. It was really hard and long, but in the end we made great movies, and we are so proud of what we did.  If it was this hard to make a 7-minute, I can just imagine what it takes to make a full-length film.”
Yuval Ben Yehuda, teacher of the communications course, points out how unique the films are. “The movies are very strong accounts about life here that are based on two cultures," he said.  "Films like this could be made only in the framework of a school like Hand in Hand.”

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