Documentary Film Prize Recipient, 2011

Julia Bacha, Ronit Avni and Rula Salameh have been awarded the inaugural Ridenhour Documentary Film Prize for Budrus, an inspiring documentary about a Palestinian community organizer, Ayed Morrar, who in 2003 united local Fatah and Hamas members along with Israeli supporters in a peaceful movement to save his West Bank village from destruction by Israel’s Separation Barrier. Success eluded them until his 15-year-old daughter, Iltezam, launched a women’s contingent that quickly moved to the frontlines. Struggling side by side, father and daughter unleashed a stirring, yet little-known movement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories that is still gaining ground.

While this film is about one Palestinian village, it tells a much bigger story about what is possible in the Middle East. Morrar succeeded in doing what many people believe to be impossible: he united feuding Palestinian political groups; he brought women to the heart of the struggle by encouraging his daughter Iltezam’s leadership; and he welcomed hundreds of Israelis to cross into Palestinian territory for the first time and join this nonviolent effort. Together, this unlikely coalition stood in the path of bulldozers and tried to halt the destruction of the ancient olive groves on which their livelihoods depend. After ten months of demonstrations, they succeeded in altering the route of the wall. Many of the activists who joined the villagers of Budrus are now continuing to support nonviolence efforts in villages from Bil’in to Nabi Saleh to Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem.

The movie is directed by award-winning filmmaker Julia Bacha (co-writer and editor of Control Room and co-director of Encounter Point), and produced by Bacha, Palestinian journalist Rula Salameh, and filmmaker and human rights advocate Ronit Avni (formerly of WITNESS, and the director of Encounter Point).

The Ridenhour judges salute Budrus — the inaugural winner of the Ridenhour Film Prize — an action-filled documentary that shines a light on people who choose nonviolence to confront a threat.