Just ahead of this weekend’s showing of the Amitai Gross film, Music in the Key of Peace, a 4-questions interview with the filmmaker:
Can you tell us a little bit about your project?
It began as a desire to document grass roots movements who bring together Jews and Arabs. The point of this was not to look at groups who are intentionally confrontational or political, but create a space for these two neighboring cultures to see each other as humans. Because of my background as a musician, I chose to specifically focus on groups using that as a tool.
What was your favorite experience during your visit to Israel last year?
My favorite experience was the one time I didn’t turn the camera on, when I was asked to teach music at an all-Arab Waldorf elementary school. Throughout my visit, my biggest frustration was my inability to be a participant – always being stuck behind the camera. But, on this one occasion, I was given the opportunity to practice what I was preaching and actually interact as a Jew amongst Arabs. My favorite part of this experience was teaching an 8 year old boy how to play scales on the piano, while not being able to communicate verbally; he didn’t speak English and I don’t speak Arabic.
What do you hope people watching your movie will come away with?
A more positive and progressive outlook on the situation. I’m a big supporter of the “act as if” philosophy toward this particular conflict. I hope that people will learn to recognize and support these valid efforts to live the peaceful lifestyle, rather than put their energy toward partisan efforts (such as: protests or one-sided rallies).
What are your next steps?
I was recently told that before hitting theaters the movie Blade Runner went through 15 cuts and an additional 5 after premiering. I plan to continue editing and fine-tuning the film and promoting more of these neutral peaceful efforts based in cross-cultural dialog. Soon, I would like to begin coordinating joint efforts amongst these groups, to help them support one another, and reach a larger audience.
You can see Amitai’s documentary and hear more about his vision and the work being done in Israel/Palestine this Sunday, December 19th at 7:00 pm at Congregation Har HaShem, 3950 Baseline Road, Boulder. Suggested donation $18.