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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Los Angeles Screening of "Arna's Children" May 10

"Arna's Children," a documentary: Palestinian children learn theater in Jenin Refugee Camp. Filmmaker will be present.

Along with her son Juliano, the legendary Israeli activist Arna Mer Khamis taught a group of children from the Jenin refugee camp how to act and perform, enabling them to "bring the sun back into the palace," as they called their first play.

The theatre carried on following Arna's death in 1995, but was destroyed during the 2002 invasion of Jenin by the Israeli Army. In August 2005, friends and colleagues of Arna from Jenin and the refugee camp set about re-creating the theatre in order to educate, encourage, and empower the children, instilling a bit of hope in an otherwise desolate situation.

WHAT: Arna's Children
WHEN: Thursday, May 10 at 7:30 pm
WHERE: The Workmen's Circle, 1525 S. Robertson Blvd., L.A. 90035;

Juliano Mer Khamis, an actor, filmmaker and activist who lives in Haifa and Jenin, and is now the artistic director of the company, will be present to host a Q&A session after the screening.

For further information about the theatre:
"Arna's Children":

Our cosponsors include 4th Monday, a consortium of documentary film makers, and American Friends Service Committee.

Admission will be without charge, but there will be an appeal to lend support to the Jenin Freedom Theatre. Copies of the film will also be available for purchase. Seating on a first-come, first-seated basis.

Julian Mer Kamis
Documentary, Israel, 2003, 84 minutes
Arabic and Hebrew with English Subtitles
D.C. Premiere

Juliano Mer Khamis, son of an Israeli Mother and Palestinian father, Arna's Children spends years of his youth teaching theater to Palestinian children as part of an alternative education program that his mother, Arna, established in the occupied West Bank. Years after his mother's death, Mer Khamis returns to find that the children he knew and loved have now joined the intifada—and captures how childhood innocence is lost to war.

Arna Mer Khamis was a legendary activist against the Israeli Occupation. Born into a Jewish family she married a Palestinian Arab and spent her life campaigning for justice and human rights in her homeland. Arna founded an alternative education system for Palestinian children whose lives had been disrupted by Israeli occupation. In the Jenin refugee camp, Arna opened a theatre group where she taught the children to express anger, bitterness and fear through acting and art. The children slowly grew to trust and to love Arna: "She's like my mother," says one child. "She helps us. She saved us from the streets." Arna's son, Juliano Mer Khamis, was a director at the theater group and filmed his mother and the children rehearsing and performing over a six year period. When Arna died of cancer in 1995, the theater group struggled to continue for another two years but ultimately did not survive.
Five years after Arna's death, Juliano, now one of the region's leading actors, returns to the camp to discover what happened to "Arna's Children." Shifting back and forth in time, Mer Khamis's film juxtaposes the sweet-faced young boys with the militants and martyrs they become. "Arna's Children" reveals the tragedy and horror of young lives trapped by the circumstances of occupation.
"Yousef committed a suicide attack in 2001. Ashraf was killed in the battle of Jenin. Ala leads a resistance group. I returned to the ruins of Jenin with my camera, to see what happened to the children I knew and film tries to tell their stories and to understand their choices." - Director, Juliano Mer Khamis
"A must-see documentary. Sure to spark controversy for its straightforward presentation of the Palestinian struggle, ['Arna's Children'] limns a devastating group portrait of the legacy of occupation." - Variety


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