Over the past year, I have been working on producing a film that tells the stories of three young people living in Israel and Palestine. My film team and I interviewed a Palestinian Muslim, Palestinian Christian, and Israeli Jew. In January, we completed the seven-minute version of the film, and I flew to Washington D.C. to present the film at the National Prayer Breakfast. Our intent was to raise awareness about the hope that exists in the region, and to tell the story of three peacemakers.
The National Prayer Breakfast takes place the first week of February each year. I had the opportunity to present our film at the Middle East Breakfast in front of 500 people. I talked for a few minutes and briefly shared about my passion to see restoration take place in Israel and Palestine. Despite my disdain for public speaking, I felt like I was on top of the world being able to share my heart for restoration amidst the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
After the event, several people came up to me to thank me for sharing a story about three people striving to be peacemakers. The whole event seemed surreal. All the work had paid off. However, God always has a way of humbling people when pride begins to build up:
Along with the praises came criticism. A few people at the Prayer Breakfast expressed their frustration toward the film for being too one-sided or misrepresentative of the Israeli side. Ronit, the Israeli in the film, began to hint at the fact that she may not be the best person to represent the other side in the film. Issues of political stances, religious traditions, and faith began to build up. Although I denied the truth of the matter to begin with, I slowly realized I needed to listen to the criticisms of the film.
Two weeks after the National Prayer Breakfast and several screenings at universities had taken place, Ronit emailed us and respectfully asked to be disassociated with the film. Out of her own integrity, she felt like she was untrue to herself in the film with her current position in her faith and political views.
I went from being on top of the world with the completion and distribution of the 7-minute film to a place where I was brought to my knees. I felt like the film had failed, that we had failed. But my friends, family, classmates, and people who had viewed the film encouraged me by reminding me that God has greater things in store, and to not give up.
We decided to take a break from the film to give ourselves time to reflect and refocus. Over the past month, I have learned a lot.
-· Relationships and restoration are the primary purpose for the film
-· Our idea of success is much different than God’s ideas
-· “Dreams don’t happen in the clouds, they happen when we’re on our knees.” My friend shared the quote with me.
-· Humility keeps us grounded
-· Finish what you have started, and do it with excellence
The process of putting together the story and film was long and challenging, but has proven to be rewarding. And it is not over yet. We are planning on returning to Israel and Palestine this summer in order to finish what our team started a just a little over a year ago. We are excited to see what will happen and how the story will change and we are especially excited to share this feature-length documentary with you.