this documentary will not lead to peace in the Middle East, but it does offer a ray of hope that seems particularly poignant when you consider how horrific the last few weeks have been in the war-torn land.Promises focuses on seven Israeli and Palestinian children who live within 20 minutes of each other but inhabit completely separate worlds. Three Americans -- Justine Shapiro, B.Z. Goldberg and Carlos Bolado -- travelled to Jerusalem in 1997 to meet their seven subjects, who include a Palestinian boy living in a refugee camp, twin secular Jewish boys, a rabbi's son and the daughter of a Palestinian political prisoner.
They represent a pint-sized sample of Middle Eastern society. Some speak with the naivete befitting children while others show the bitterness and prejudice that can only come from living their entire lives in a war zone. What's most striking is their level of maturity. All the children have come face to face with violence, death, limited freedoms and the amazing understanding that as soon as they pass into adulthood they will become part of the problem, not the solution.
The filmmakers visited their charges over the course of three years. Promises' highlight is the meeting between the Jewish twins and the Palestinian refugee boy. Initially reluctant to get together, the three boys bond, and while their friendship is brief, it's one that they, and we, will always remember.
PROMISES directed by Justine Shapiro, B.Z. Goldberg and Carlos Bolado, produced by Shapiro and Goldberg. 100 minutes. A Promises Film Project production. A Doc Soup screening at the Royal Ontario Museum (100 Queen's Park), Friday (December 14), 7:30 pm. $10, stu/srs $8. 416-586-5797. www.hotdocs.ca. Rating: NNNN