SMC film club presents Arna's Children
Sitting cross-legged on a Moroccan style couch, SMC student Yonatan Mallinger tells a story of the history behind the documentary Arna's Children, which was shown to students and faculty last Thursday, May 5.. Arna's Children is a documentary written and directed by Juliano Mer-Khamis. The documentary is based on his mother Arna, a Jewish Israeli activist against the Israeli occupation. Ms. Mer-Khamis founded an alternative education route for children in Jenin, in the West Bank.
Mallinger coproduced the event together with the Film Club. As students began to fill the classroom for the screening that began at 6:30 p.m., there was an atmosphere of pride from both Israeli and Palestinian students.
While living in the West Bank, Mallinger personally met Mer-Khamis at a screening in Jenin, where Mer-Khamis established a refugee theater called the Freedom Theatre. "That was his thing, to bring people of the community together," said Mallinger, "He was a very important person, and he was an overall amazing human being."
April 4, 2011, Mer-Khamis was murdered, in Jenin by masked gunmen.
"The screening of "Arna's Children" was purposely coincided with the time of his death, being approximately one month later," says Mallinger, "I felt like screening the film would be an appropriate memorial for him."
The documentary reveals the harsh realities for Palestinian children of a theater group in Jenin.
"The viewers of the film were able to see the conflict from a different perspective, one they may not have seen if they didn't know some of the history," claims Mallinger.
At the end of the screening, there was a long conversation in which audience members were able to participate. While some students cried over the harsh realization of what was happening in their home country, others remained shocked and some had a negative image of the Jewish people.
SMC student Klair Altman, who attended the screening said, "I'm Jewish, and I'm very interested in Israel and the things that go on there. Learning more about it will inspire me to do more for people."
The subject matter presented in the documentary was told from the pespective of the children in Ms. Khamis' theater group, and there is much controversy over whether the documentary is biased or not. The Jewish Israelis in the film are seen doing bad things, such as being violent and rude, but that's the way the children saw it.
"Whether or not that is factual, it's a documentary. It's impossible to show every side," said Mallinger.
The unspoken tale of the children who fought for their freedoms is one that is told through the voices across the world.