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Originally published Thursday, December 16, 2010 at 3:01 PM

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Movie review

'Budrus': Nonviolence put to the test in West Bank documentary

"Budrus" is Julia Bacha's provocative documentary about Palestinian community organizers who emphasized nonviolence in their attempts to stop Israel from using a separation barrier to destroy their town.

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie review 3 stars

'Budrus,' a documentary directed by Julia Bacha. 81 minutes. Not rated; contains disturbing images of destruction. In English, Arabic and Hebrew, with English subtitles. Varsity.

Nadav Greenberg, who was part of the filmmaking team, will speak at the 7:15 p.m. shows Friday through Sunday.

It's impossible to watch "Budrus" without thinking of Rachel Corrie, the Evergreen State College student who was crushed to death by an Israeli Defense Forces bulldozer in the Gaza Strip in 2003.

Directed by Brazilian filmmaker Julia Bacha, this new documentary calls attention to a similar confrontation that had a very different outcome, also in 2003. It's named after a West Bank village of 1,500 Palestinians where resistance was organized by Ayed Morrar, a committed leader who tried to stop Israel from using a separation barrier to destroy the town and its vital collection of olive trees.

The crisis was averted when his 15-year-old daughter, Iltezam, led a group of female resisters who moved to the front lines to block the destruction.

"Budrus" attempts to inspire with its emphasis on nonviolent achievement. No suicide bombs were set off; no one died. Still, the gains were strictly relative — and partly in the eye of the beholder. A map was altered, an orchard was saved, but for how long?

Bacha, who worked on the impressive 2004 documentary "Control Room," does well to focus on one tiny town and its leading citizens; "Budrus" is at its best when she keeps the scale small.

In addition to Ayed Morrar and his daughter, the cast includes a sympathetic police-

woman, an Israeli army captain, activists who joined the cause and children of various ages — some of whom blithely refuse to recognize the danger they're courting.

Bacha uses an infectious score and sharp editing to steer the footage away from standard documentary clichés. The result is a provocative, hopeful if necessarily incomplete account of one victory in a long struggle.

John Hartl:

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