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Grassroots in Dry Lands
A film by Helene Klodawsky
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Shot in Palestine, Israel, and Jordan, GRASSROOTS IN DRY LANDS tells the story of three unconventional social workers united by a common vision, one that transcends the antagonisms between their countries. Nuha, from Nablus (Palestine), Talal, from Amman (Jordan), and Amit, from Sderot (Israel) work to empower some of the region's most disenfranchised, war-scarred communities in an effort to build a just and civil society.

In Sderot, an Israeli town with a large immigrant and elderly population, student volunteers led by organizer Amit Kitain spearhead a campaign to improve access to public services-particularly for those who are poor or disabled. Near Nablus, architect and social worker Nuha Dwaikat Shaer works to provide secure housing for a family, while also initiating therapeutic conversations about domestic violence. Outside Amman, social worker Talal Qdah organizes regular meetings between residents and once-inaccessible political and religious leaders.

By stressing the importance of standing up for individual rights and fair treatment as a local community, these organizers all hope their work will help their clients improve their lives, while contributing to a goal of creating peace and understanding, both within and among communities.

"A story of hope and commonality of human experience."Dr. Edip Yavuz Zeybek, Chairperson, Intercultural Dialogue Institute

"Social workers are on the front lines, and it is important that we understand how difficult, and skilled it is to do this work... The contrast between individual and systemic issues is well-done... GRASSROOTS IN DRY LANDS is poignant and very moving... I loved it."Elizabeth (Bessa) Whitmore, Professor Emerita at Carleton University School of Social Work, Ottawa, Canada

"Gives viewers a glimpse into how high politics and private experiences are intertwined. Across three societies, we see that people's everyday pain may be a function of structural oppression, and that peace in the Middle East may ultimately depend on people's ability to seek justice in their own families and communities."Mira Sucharov, Associate Professor of Political Science, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada

"Shows us there is another way, a better way, to deal with discrimination and poverty. The film gives us hope, and is an affirmation of the basic goodness of human beings."Dale Dodge, Development and Peace, Caritas Canada

"Gives us a window into the heart of positive change, social justice and peace. Supported by elegant, soulful sound and graceful, honest visuals, the film highlights the work of Canadian-trained social workers and the people they work with in disadvantaged communities in Israel, Jordan and the West Bank."Sharon Gubbay Helfer, Ph.D., Intercultural-Mid East Dialogue Facilitator & Oral Historian

"Offering case studies of the challenges and small victories of community organizers in Palestine, Jordan and Israel, this film lets us see the day-to-day work that is remarkably similar in the three settings we are too often taught to see as fundamentally different ... A deeply moving film."Dr. Jill Hanley, Associate Professor, McGill School of Social Work


52 minutes / color
Closed Captioned
Release: 2016
Copyright: 2015
Sale: $348
Feature-length version available for film festivals upon request.

Subject areas:
Domestic Violence, Economics, Family Relations, Human Rights, Israel, Jewish Studies, Jordan, Law, Middle East, Palestine, Political Science, Social Work, Sociology, Women's Studies

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Nefertiti's Daughters: Female street artists are on the front lines in the fight for freedom in Egypt today.

Tinghir-Jerusalem: Filmmaker and historian Kamal Hachkar goes in search of a community that has vanished - and confronts fundamental questions of his own identity in the process.

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Last Updated September 21, 2016
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