Film: The House of Tomorrow (2011)
Directors: Hanan Kattan and Shamim Sarif
Screenwriter: Shamim Sarif
?Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase ?each other? doesn’t make any sense.?
Jalal al-Din Rumi
Roses in the Rubble
This film was released prior to the recent attacks in Gaza and does not in the least anticipate them. There is no mention of Hamas in The House of Tomorrow, which was released prior to the conflict, and the film? both realistic and optimistic?doesn’t foreshadow the impending doom.
It’s just a well-crafted argument by two Palestinian women that effectively, objectively, and lovingly outlines the problems and proposes solutions rooted in women’s concerns.
Hostilities between Jews and Arabs in Palestine go back a lot further than 1923, when the Palestine Mandate made provision for an Israeli state within Palestine territory; even back in the centuries when just a remnant of Jews inhabited the land, there were bitter conflicts. The rancour appears to stem back to Biblical times and even today to be based on a mutual misinterpretation of a mythos very distant from today’s crisis, yet utterly bound up with it.
In spite of the recent attacks between Hamas and Israel, The House of Tomorrow breeds optimism, oddly enough, offering a glimpse of another side of life in Palestine: the aims, aspirations, and initiatives of women on both sides of the divide who are stubbornly and against all odds striving for peace.
Though it can do nothing to lessen the grief many of us felt in the wake of the daily reports of casualties, the film may lessen the blow of discouragement and hopelessness that these deaths triggered?maybe things just had to get worse before they could really get better.
The goal of bringing women together to forge a new future is highly commendable, and the suggestions the Israeli and Palestinian women give are in keeping with concerns for the well-being of children and a longing for freedom and autonomy.
The film also clarifies something that Western media generally ignores: the fact that historically, for every Jew that has been killed by Hamas, 10 to 100 Palestinian lives have been taken by Israel. Palestinians can’t travel freely even within their own regions; a 20-minute car trip will take several hours because of checkpoints, and some trips require reams of red tape.
Israel’s infamous Green Line (described in the film as an extreme reaction to the extreme crisis of suicide bombings) has cut off a large majority of Palestinian farmers from their ancestral fields for years, and Palestinians are daily subjected to humiliation and poverty. Those who fled to other countries are in a kind of political limbo, not granted the rights due them in their homelands yet also not qualifying for the rights of the citizens of the countries in which they’ve taken refuge.
The good news is that there’s a worldwide network comprised of both Jews and Palestinians who refuse to give up on the dream of peace in the Holy Land.
The film loses points for suggesting that resolution lies more in the direction of economic prosperity for Palestinians. For example, a micro-brewery in Muslim-majority Palestine is touted as a great social good, a means of initiating peace, if you will, while there’s no suggestion of holding the religious accountable to the dictates of peace in their own tenets of faith.
But the film gains these points back for asserting that when dialogue occurs between the two ethnicities, good things happen: Commonalities are noted, alliances are forged, and the powers-that-be are thwarted in their efforts to divide and conquer. The message is simple. Change is mandatory, possible, and now in progress. Get out of our way.
House of Tomorrow manifests five of the Mindful Bard’s criteria about for films well worth seeing: 1) it is about attainment of the true self; 2) it displays an engagement with and compassionate response to suffering; 3) it gives me tools of kindness, enabling me to respond with compassion and efficacy to the suffering around me; 4) it renews my enthusiasm for positive social action; and 5) it makes me appreciate that life is a complex and rare phenomenon, making living a unique opportunity.
Wanda also penned the poems for the artist book They Tell My Tale to Children Now to Help Them to be Good, a collection of meditations on fairy tales, illustrated by artist Susan Malmstrom.