Five broken cameras – and each one has a powerful tale to tell. Embedded in the bullet-ridden remains of digital technology is the story of Emad Burnat, a farmer from the Palestinian village of Bil’in, which famously chose nonviolent resistance when the Israeli army encroached upon its land to make room for Jewish colonists. Emad buys his first camera in 2005 to document the birth of his fourth son, Gibreel. Over the course of the film, he becomes the peaceful archivist of an escalating struggle as olive trees are bulldozed, lives are lost, and a wall is built to segregate burgeoning Israeli settlements.
Away from professional stadiums, bright lights, and manicured fields, there’s another side of soccer. Tucked away on alleys, side streets, and concrete courts, people play in improvised games. Every country has a different word for it. In the United States, we call it “pick-up soccer.” In Trinidad, it’s “taking a sweat.” In England, it’s “having a kick-about.” In Brazil, the word is “pelada,” which literally means “naked”—the game stripped down to its core. It’s the version of the game played by anyone, anywhere—and it’s a window into lives all around the world. Pelada is a documentary following Luke and Gwendolyn, two former college soccer stars who didn’t quite make it to the pros. Not ready for it to be over, they take off, chasing the game. From prisoners in Bolivia to moonshine brewers in Kenya, from freestylers in China to women who play in hijab in Iran, Pelada is the story of the people who play.
We live at a moment in time when the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, now more than a century old, continues to be of overwhelming international political and societal importance. From its inception, that conflict has also, of course, had powerful and deeply troubling consequences for Israelis and Palestinians themselves. The story at its most basic level is one that involves two peoples struggling for national recognition and expression in a small but richly significant piece of land. The tragedy of this history, as both the Israeli novelist, Amos Oz, and the Palestinian scholar, Sari Nusseibeh, have each pointed out, stems from a conflict between the rights of two peoples with equal and legitimate aspirations to nationhood and self-expression in a single small territory to which they can both lay claim.
In 2008 two best friends found themselves trapped in one of the most dangerous places on earth – the only western journalists in the Gaza Strip on what was supposed to be a 24-hour assignment. The War Around Us captures the collision of veteran war correspondent and one of TIME’s most 100 influential people, Ayman Mohyeldin, with rookie reporter Sherine Tadros. As missiles shower the city and unspeakable atrocities emerge, the pair is torn by fierce professional rivalry, private terror and grim humor – with no way out and the whole world watching.