“Open Bethlehem” film documents fight against wall, settlements

The trailer has been released for Open Bethlehem, a new film by Palestinian documentary-maker Leila Sansour which calls for an international response to the plight of her hometown.

Sansour, the daughter of one of the founders of Bethlehem University, left the city in her teens, finding it too “small and provincial” for her youthful dreams.

But when she returned in 2004, she found the city already threatened by the Israeli separation wall, and was quickly embroiled in a campaign to bring together people from around the world – from the Christian churches who focus on Bethlehem every Christmas to Palestine solidarity groups – to resist the encroachment of the wall and an iron ring of Israeli settlements.

The Open Bethlehem campaign has called for European Union sanctions on Israel and has commissioned polls in the United States and Britain which demonstrate widespread public ignorance about the situation in Palestine.

Director in discussion with Melvyn Bragg

The increasing impact of the wall on Bethlehem has been felt especially in the surrounding villages, such as al-Walaja, some of which have lost a large proportion of their agricultural land. Bethlehem’s neighboring town of Beit Jala has also seen homes and even part of the historic Salesian religious community there cut off by the wall.

After seven years of filming and campaigning, the Open Bethlehem feature-length movie is now being launched. A high-profile preview screening at the Royal Geographical Society in London on 24 September will feature Sansour in a question and answer session with Melvyn Bragg, one of Britain’s best-known art and culture commentators and a major TV personality.

This will be followed by what the organizers hope will be a wide-ranging cinema release over Christmas 2014 in the UK, in which Open Bethlehem will be billed as “the alternative Christmas movie.”

US audiences will have to wait until Christmas 2015 for a full-scale release.




Absolutely brilliant!!! can't wait to see the whole documentary and thank you for bringing this awful occupation for the world to see. Peace


"All or nothing" yes, I believe even psychopathic Israel would be forced to bend under the weight of that determination. The World would have to concede, do we stand by whilst Israel annihilates the whole Nation of Palestinians, the rightful residents of these ancient homelands, or do we finally intercede to kick Israel into the twenty first century. The World has been complicit in this struggle for too long. Do not use the excuse relating to Israeli possession of nuclear weapons, that is irrelevant, especially if the World will unite against this Israeli oppression; will they "nuke" the whole world? Also tell me this, which Nation will they occupy next? Israel must be brought down to Earth, so it must be "All or nothing”, all Peace negotiations are a farce simply used to punctuate the periods of Palestinian death and destruction, imposed by a people that have “lost” their religious and humanitarian roots. Palestinians have nothing left to lose. Now is the time to keep Israel on the "defensive", the World will act to finally bring Israel to account for their evil actions; take courage and be defiant, your claims are just, you will win, and yes there will be Martyr's, Blessed be their names, but there is no better time and no better reason to give lives, than this cause. Unless the Palestinians keep up the pressure of their resistance, forcing Israel to choose, either they keep up the annihilation of Palestinian lives and property; in which case the World would finally shut them down, Or they finally decide to relinquish plans for a "greater Israel", and instead, work humanely with the Palestinians to create an independent, totally autonomous Palestinian state. When all of this becomes reality, then all resistance towards Israel and Israeli’s will disappear. Further cease-fires and peace negotiations simply give Israel what it wants; this automatically guarantees an extension for continued massacres, demolition bombings, deprivation, and no future.


I feel so ineffectual against Israel when our own leaders and politicians are so spineless, I am so angry I will never again vote for another politician that supports Zionism and I will fight any way I can against this genocide and revolting occupation.

Sarah Irving

Sarah Irving's picture

Sarah is a freelance writer and editor, author of a biography of Leila Khaled and of the Bradt Guide to Palestine, co-editor of A Bird is Not a Stone (a volume of Palestinian poetry translated into the languages of Scotland), and a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh. She has worked and traveled in Palestine since 2001.