Venue: Open Society Archives & Goethe Institute

Verzio Film Festival is involving students in the educational project by organizing special morning screenings and follow-up debates for high school groups. In the framework of the program recent documentary films are presented. Educational screenings are focused on human rights' violations, crisis spots, minorities, other cultures, mutual understanding and promotion of tolerance. The film screenings are followed by debates with the participation of discussion leaders.

Bridge Over the Wadi
Barak Heymann & Tomer Heymann / Israel / 2006 / 57 min

In 2004, Arab and Israeli parents embarked on a joint initiative to establish a bilingual elementary school in Kara, a village in Israel. Although the initiative was idealistic and noble, the reality was that parents still had some major hurdles to overcome. In addition, they were forced to defend their decision in the face of opponents and skeptics. The school, which is called Bridge over the Wadi, has places for 50 Jewish and 50 Arab students, but is located in the Arab part of the valley. The filmmakers observe how students, faculty and parents struggle to coexist peacefully during the first exciting year. Teachers spend a great deal of time teaching mutual respect, and they arrange field trips to the mosque and the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. Some parents feel reciprocal integration is going too far when students are asked to participate in each other's religious festivities. Can an ideal overcome historical animosity?
After the film round table discussion with the volunteers of Haver Alapítvány
•• Student perspective

The film is about a solution to try and make peace between the Jews and the Arabs in Israel. In the first scene of the film we can see that the parents were happy because they thought that this would be the long awaited solution to make peace. Also in this scene we could see the beginnings of this bilingual school, and how the children were getting along with each other. In the second scene we saw religious celebrations and how the children were taking part in the celebration of the other religion. Here we could witness the first signs of intolerance on the side of the parents who saw the meaning of this. In the third scene we saw more signs of differences and intolerance on the side of the parents, especially on the day when the Jews celebrated their independence but for the Arabs it was the saddest day in history. The biggest problem was how to explain it to the children. But very strangely only the parents and the teachers had problems, not the children, who made friendships even if they came from different ethnic groups.
All in all this is a good solution to make peace but not the most effective because in other places of Israel Jews and Arabs continue to kill each other. For me it’s a good feeling that certain Jews and Arabs want to change because it’s becoming boring for me to hear each day how many people were being killed there.

This film was shot in Israel, in a strange school with the name of Bridge over the Wadi. In that school the students and the teachers were either Jews or Arabs. There were many problems between the Jews and Arabs. The biggest problem was how to deal with the real world in which these two ethnic groups are killing each other. For me this was the most interesting question. Why should a parent send his/her kid in a bilingual school., to be with the „enemy”. Maybe they hoped to find a solution to this problem in the next generation, or they hoped they could instantly make peace or simply that school was the nearest school to where they lived. We cannot know the real reason.
This school was full of controversies, like how to celebrate religious holidays or keep the traditions. There were a lot of clashes among the parents and the teachers. Some parents, the weaker ones, took their kids to another school, the stronger ones let their kid go there and form an opinion about the situation themselves. This is a problem which is quite general, not only in Israel, but in every country. Is it interesting?
In my opinion when people decided to put their children into that school they had to be strong, because they knew that their kids would have friend from the other side of the society or even they may change later on. Did you ever think about that?

The film was about Jewish and Arab kids in the same school in Kara, Israel. It wanted to show a way out of the problem of the war and the future of these kids. It was shot in the bilingual school and in the homes of the children. In the school the there were Muslim and Jewish teachers as well as students. Even if the teachers could not very well work together they taught the children to work together. The teachers taught tolerance, taught the history and traditions of the two religions but they had problems with the limits. And when they missed the limit their practice became contradictory to the original aim of the school and the parents. I think it is always very difficult to do exactly what we want and not something that is only similar. The teachers in this school could not do it. It was shown at the end of the film when we could hear their opinion about the future. They feel the change but cannot live with it yet.
I think this film is a good example of how views and practices of life can differ. I think people should first watch this film, find out its message and learn from it and then we could have another exchange of opinions.

This is a film about a bilingual school in Kara, Israel. The people in the school had many problems. The major problem was that the Jews left their home country 2000 years ago. During those years the Arabs lived in that part of the world and are still living there, but the Jews also moved back and now they have to share. The religions of the two nations are very different and so are their holidays. Very often what is a holiday for the Jews is a sad day for the Arabs. It was a good idea to start a school for the two nations; because the teachers can teach there two different ethnic groups in one place and also teach them how to live together. For me the message of the film was that there is no major difference among people. It’s only their religion which is different, but they can learn to tolerate each other. If they manage that their world will be much better.
All in all I think that anyone who watches this film will understand this message. And I think it is very important to make such films and to call the attention to the problems of our world. The quality of the film was very good but I found the subtitles changing too fast for me.

I think this film carried strong messages. And also, in my opinion, the Israeli and the Arabs should be watching it in the first place.
The film shows how two rival nations can work and live together. On the one hand this is a good example for two nations to live together in peace. In this way the film is a propaganda film. On the other hand this school can confuse the children. The parents at home teach their kids the opposite of what the kids learn at school. And also the children have to face the problem of what is the celebration of victory for one nation can be the day of loss and sadness for another nation and this must be very difficult for them to understand.
I think it needs very much time to create peace between these two nations. And more schools like this one have to be organized. If the Jewish and Arab children can live and learn together in peace why cannot the adults follow their example?

The film is about how the Arabs and Jews can live together in peace. They go to the same school, they study together, they play together, still many parents educate their kids in hatred. The film lists many problems: hostility, patience, intolerance, the opportunities of an individual in a society and in the family, and it also deals with the function of the family in the society. I think the major problem here was that the parents, opposite to what they were saying, could not accept the other nationality.
In the film a Jewish boys invites his Arab friend over to his home and the Jewish grandma keeps asking the Arab boy painful adult questions. I deduct that families of opposite religion cannot tolerate each other. I think this is not only the case between Arabs and Jews. Many people hate others because they are from a different nationality. For me the main message of the film was that if we want to stop hatred it should start with the parents, not the kids.

I think the things that were happening in that bilingual school in Israel have an important moral for us all. First of all that we should try and correct the problems and not just let them develop or cease to be by themselves. And this is so good! I don’t know what will the result of that school be but I hope something will change for the better in the end.
I like this film because it very well showed me the hardships in Israel. It is the lack of tolerance. I think every country should be tolerant but they have to know the limits, which can be different in each country. If they miss the limit they will clash like the Arab and Israeli parents about the celebrations in the school.

We have seen a very good film (it could have been a little longer), which had the title of Bridge over the Wadi. In the film the teachers wanted to make friendships between Arab and Jewish children in this bilingual school. This went well because the children really liked each other and they could not care less whether this boy or that girl was Jewish or Arab. But I was surprised at the behavior of the parents, who did not allow their children to bring a Jewish or Arab friend in their home or that their Arab daughter was not allowed to fall in love (only because of the traditions of the religion). I was disappointed with and shocked by this behavior of the adults. They would not let their children study or take part in the celebration of the other religion (like a Jewish boy praying to Allah) and they were displeased at what they saw in the school, where they themselves put their children. If I remember correctly one parent even took her kid out of the school because of this.
However, I think the school runs a very good chance to change the situation, because these children are very young (8-9 years old) and will grow up differently from their parents. Still, in the part which I found most interesting, the children were talking about what they would be doing when they grow up. They asked each other: Will I have to kill you? I think this was the most dramatic part of the film because they all knew that they could be very good friends now, but when they grow up it is possible that “they will have to kill each other”.

I found this film engaging. It was about the customs, traditions and religions of two different nations, the Arabs and the Jews. It made me think about how bad and unfortunate life can be. For me the most interesting thing was how those children lived. That they did not know how bad their life was. And how unpleasant the contacts between Jews and Arabs were. Jews and Arabs attack each other in every way, adults ask children what they think about the attacks and the children do not know about such things. They are too young to know. I don’t think I would be able to cope with such situations.

The film shows a bilingual school in Israel, where Arab and Jewish children learn. The parents wanted to change their children’s life so they founded this school. The film portrays the problems. Take, for example, the religious festivities. The Arabs have a celebration on a day they call something like the Day of Defeat. This is the day when they lost their country, they were forced to withdraw. But on the same day the Jews have a celebration, the Day of Independence. This is a day of joy for them because on this day they got their country back. In the school the teachers tried to teach this controversial thing without putting much feeling into it but they were unable to do so. The children could hardly get what was going on around them. For example when a Jewish kid invited an Arab friend over to his home, the Jewish grandmother discovered that the friend was Arab and started to ask him questions about the terrorist attacks; she started to “attack” him and the kid could hardly understand what she was saying. Or another example: a Jewish girl with her Arab friend and her friend's father went to a fun-fair. They talked and somehow “love’ became the topic. The father told the Jewish girl that it was forbidden for an Arab girl to “fall in love”. And she asked back: “What if she does?” The father said: “I’ll shoot her down.” For a European this is a very strange, horrible thing. But not for the Arabs. That’s their culture.

I don’t think that this bilingual school will stay, but anyway, this is a good thing, a good try but just a try. Every child’s destiny depends on their parents’ goodwill. If the parents don’t like this initiative they will not send their children to this bilingual school. For example: one of the Jewish parents said: “I’m an atheist but I don’t like to see my kid praying to Allah”. Then why did she send her kid to that school? An other example is when an Arab boy was invited to the home of a Jewish boy the Jewish grandma kept asking him questions about suicide bombers and terrorists – and all that from a third grader!!! Why didn’t she let them just play? These are big problems, but not the biggest ones. The main problem is the holidays and also that the Jewish and the Arab cultures are quite different. And it is very difficult to cross the bridge between them. For example an Arab girl cannot go to a party after 5 pm or cannot fall in love with someone who isn’t proper for the family. The parents on both sides hate to see their kids study too much about the culture of the other religion, or to see their Jewish kid go into a mosque or their Arab kid sing songs in Hebrew. The common history, mostly from the 1940s, is a difficult problem, too. The Arabs have one way of looking at it and the Jews have a completely different one. The Jews say they came home but the Arabs say they were forced to leave their home – and they both men one and the same historical event. If they could manage their basic problem such aspects would not count. But now, when a Jewish boy grows up he will be a soldier and will fight the Arabs, who will fight back with terrorist bombs.
So all in all I think it’s the parents, who should be going to this school, not the kids, because a kid does not care if his playmate is Jewish, Arab, black, blond, Chinese or Indian.

Teacher: Katalin GÁDOROS

Rocking the Nation
Bori Kriza / Hungary / 2007 / 70 min

Romantic Violence started out as a high school band in the 90’s, but today they are one of the top representatives of "national rock". They claim they are patriots; their role models are the freedom fighters of ’56. They tour former Hungarian territories annexed by Romania and Serbia, play in clubs and at the Hungarian Sziget Festival. They travel tirelessly, for their music is their mission, "to strengthen national dentity", "to shake people up", "to make people think" at home and abroad. Their concerts are much more than a party for the fans: they have created a community, and a way of life. They sing folk-rock numbers, legends and revisionist songs along with the Ferencvaros football team anthem. Their slogans are rocking: freedom, anti-Communism, Trianon, the Jews, Hungary, to arms!
After the film round table discussion with director, historians, sociologists.

Children in the Shadow
Caroline Haertel, Mirjana Momirovic / Germany / 2006 / 29 min

Many films have already attempted to portray what it is like to raise children with disabilities – from the parents’ perspective. But what is it like to grow up as the brother or sister of a disabled child? Always a slightly in the background, slightly in the shadow. This film pioneers this approach by presenting the lives of three "shadow" children. Three different children, three different stories with one common feature: their childhood spent in the shadow.
After the film round table discussion with psychologists

Psychological Warfare in the Classroom
Annette Heinrich, Michael Steinbrecher / Germany / 2007 / 28 min

Alexander and Samantha are two children who have been abused by their fellow classmates for years both psychologically and physically, wile their environment helplessly assisted to this although the parents knew that something was wrong with the children. Years later they both managed to overcome the memory of these tortures however, will the wounds of the abuse ever heal?
After the film round table discussion with psychologists