My Neighbourhood was directed by filmmakers Rebekah Wingert-Jabi and Julia Bacha, and produced by Just Vision. The filmmakers have a personal relationship to the region, and most of Just Vision’s staff has either grown up or lived in the Middle East for a substantial period of time. Some of our families are Palestinian or Israeli and have lost loved ones, homes and freedom to conflict. We are all committed to promoting grassroots efforts to end the occupation and build a future of freedom, equality, dignity, human security and peace for all peoples in the region.
My Neighbourhood had its world premiere at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City and has since screened across the US, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It was released online in partnership with The Guardian in March 2013.
Director Rebekah Wingert-Jabi began filming in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in 2008, when Palestinian families started receiving eviction notices. In partnership with Rebekah, Just Vision’s team conducted extensive research into the history of the neighbourhood and the evictions that were taking place there. Our team interviewed the protagonists and several residents, activists and lawyers who have been present and active in Sheikh Jarrah for the last few years. The story captured in the film series is dedicated to the late Wally Marks, who expressed deep concern about the events taking place in East Jerusalem, and helped support Rebekah in her early stages of filming.
The legal battle in Sheikh Jarrah has been long and complex, and each family has had to deal with separate circumstances. However, in most cases, the settlers have relied on a key provision within Israeli law, which allows and in some cases encourages Jews possessing pre-1948 deeds for lands east of the Green Line to submit a formal petition in court to get the lands back. Palestinians, in contrast, have not been able to use such deeds to regain lands that they owned prior to 1948 to the west of the Green Line. The key Israeli laws establishing these terms are the Absentee Property Law from 1950, and the Legal and Administrative Matters (Regulation) Law from 1970. Based on these provisions, beginning in the 1970s, Israeli settler organizations began turning to Israeli courts claiming that they had obtained Ottoman deeds for the lands on which many of the houses were built, and that they are the rightful owners of those lands. While the authenticity of the documents has been disputed, in many of the legal cases the Israeli courts have recognized them and ordered the evictions to proceed.
Yes, though the exact size and location of the lands they owned and lived on is unclear. Prior to 1948, significant Jewish and Arab populations lived in both East and West Jerusalem. The Tomb of Simon the Just, located near the homes in question in Sheikh Jarrah, has been a site of Jewish pilgrimage for centuries. At least as far back as the 19th Century, there were several Jewish homes around the site of the tomb. The residents of these homes either fled or were forced to leave their property in the lead-up to the War of 1948. The Palestinian homes in question today, however, were built in the 1950s by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Sheikh Jarrah (on lands then under Jordanian rule). The homes were built on a previously uninhabited olive grove, at a time when there was no Jewish presence in the neighbourhood. The status and ownership of the lands on which the homes are built is being disputed in court.
Home Front: Portraits from Sheikh Jarrah is a series of four short film portraits (roughly eight minutes each), telling the stories of two Palestinians and two Israelis involved in the nonviolent campaign in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah. These portraits and additional resources on Sheikh Jarrah are streaming at www.justvision.org/homefront. My Neighbourhood is a significantly expanded 25-minute version of one of the four Home Front portraits, focusing on the Palestinian teenager Mohammed El Kurd.
Support materials for My Neighbourhood, including the film's discussion guide, interactive maps, a news hub provided by +972 Magazine and interviews with Palestinian and Israeli grassroots leaders and experts on the issues facing Jerusalem are available here. You may also choose supplement My Neighbourhood with our short film series, Home Front: Portraits from Sheikh Jarrah.
The film is subtitled throughout, with several scenes involving mild violence and offensive language. Adults are strongly recommended to preview the film before bringing children or teenagers under the age of fourteen to see it.
My Neighbourhood is 25 minutes long.
My Neighbourhood is available in Digibeta NTSC, Digibeta PAL, HDCAM, and DVD. We cannot guarantee that your preferred format will be available due to high demand. We recommend booking as early as possible.