on the big screen
The newest work from filmmaker Lisa Gossels [daughter of Exploration Trustee Nancy Gossels], My So-Called Enemy, is touring the United States and winning awards at just about every stop. The feature-length documentary looks at the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in a unique way and from multiple perspectives. It weaves together the stories of six young women—three from Israel and three from Palestine—who first met at a women’s leadership program called Building Bridges for Peace. The film follows the girls over a seven-year period and is ultimately about how they get to know their “enemies,” and how doing so impacts their lives in their home countries in the midst of constant turmoil and an ever-changing world. The film has been very well received and is sparking meaningful and necessary conversation.
Gossels recently returned to her home state of Massachusetts to screen My So-Called Enemy in front of a multicultural audience at Temple Shir Tikva in Wayland, the synagogue that Gossels attended growing up and where her parents remain congregants. More than 250 people attended the screening, including several members of the year-round Exploration staff. Afterward, there was an interfaith panel discussion featuring the filmmaker as well as Rabbi Neal Gold of Temple Shir Tikva, Reverend Frederick Moser of the Church of the Holy Spirit, and Dr. Asif Razvi of the Islamic Center of Boston. As it has across the country, the film had a powerful impact at this Massachusetts gathering. It is an intense, stirring work, and audience and panel members alike were deeply moved from the experience.
My So-Called Enemy took 8 years to complete, due to the complexity of the issues, the number of voices and perspectives involved, and a desire to stay true to those complexities and perspectives while simultaneously staying “current” in a world that is changing daily. Gossels became deeply connected to all of the girls featured in the film and remains in contact with many of them today.
The film has had 24 screenings as of early May 2011, and is next showing at the Seattle International Film Festival on June 5th and 6th. It will also make its way to Exploration this summer. My So-Called Enemy will screen at the Senior Program on July 6th (first session) and August 2nd (second session), and will include a processing discussion with Gossels at its conclusion.
A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Brown University, Lisa’s first film, The Children of Chabannes, heralded as “one of the most heartening Holocaust films every made,” won an Emmy Award in 2001 as well as 10 film festival awards. She also directs and produces educational films through her company, Good Egg Productions.
Building Bridges for Peace
Now under the umbrella organization of Seeking Common Ground, Building Bridges for Peace is a program that works with American, Israeli, and Palestinian teens and seeks to “equip them with the skills to manage conflicts and become leaders in creating more peaceful, equitable, and just communities.” Through a methodology called “intergroup intervention,” Building Bridges is designed to “lead participants through both interpersonal and personal processes, to increase their capacity to feel compassion and empathy, and to humanize the ‘other.’”
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