Promises (film)
Promises is a 2001 documentary film
Documentary film
Documentary films constitute a broad category of nonfictional motion pictures intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction or maintaining a historical record...

 that examines the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Israeli-Palestinian conflict
The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. The conflict is wide-ranging, and the term is also used in reference to the earlier phases of the same conflict, between Jewish and Zionist yishuv and the Arab population living in Palestine under Ottoman or...

 from the perspectives of seven children living in the Palestinian communities in the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

 and Israeli neighborhoods of Jerusalem.

The film follows Israeli-American filmmaker B.Z. Goldberg as he meets with seven Palestinian and Israeli children between the ages of nine and thirteen, seeing the Middle East conflict through their eyes. Rather than focus on specific political events, the film gives voice to these child
Biologically, a child is generally a human between the stages of birth and puberty. Some vernacular definitions of a child include the fetus, as being an unborn child. The legal definition of "child" generally refers to a minor, otherwise known as a person younger than the age of majority...

ren, who, although living only 20 minutes apart, live in completely separate worlds. The most important aspect of the film is that it allows "ordinary" kids to develop natural bonds of affection by simply playing games with each other - bonds which transcend the clutter of prejudices they have heard from their parents.

Promises was shot between 1995 and 2000 and was produced in association with the Independent Television Service with partial funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
Corporation for Public Broadcasting
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is a non-profit corporation created by an act of the United States Congress, funded by the United States’ federal government to promote public broadcasting...


The film has a running time of 106 minutes, and includes Arabic, Hebrew and English dialogue with English subtitles.

In 2004 the filmmakers' produced a follow-up program called Promises: Four Years On, which features interviews and updates on the children's current lives. It lasts 25 minutes and is included as a special feature on the film's DVD release.

Promises has been shown at many film festivals and received excellent reviews and many accolades.

The Children

  • Daniel and Yarko: Israeli boys living in west Jerusalem, secular Jews, put off more by religious Jews than Palestinians
  • Shlomo: Jewish quarter in Jerusalem, Orthodox, son of a Jewish rabbi
  • Moishe: lives in Beit-El in the West-Bank, dislikes the Arabs
  • Faraj: lives in the Deheishe refugee camp in the westbank, Palestinian
  • Mahmoud: Palestinian quarter in east jerusalem
  • Sanabel: Palestinian lives also in the Deheishe refuge camp, father is in prison because he was affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Her brother died from heat stroke.


  • Best Documentary, 74th Annual Academy Awards
    Academy Awards
    An Academy Award, also known as an Oscar, is an accolade bestowed by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize excellence of professionals in the film industry, including directors, actors, and writers...

  • Best Documentary, IFP Spirit Awards
  • Truer than Fiction Award, IFP Spirit Awards


  • 2002 The NBR Freedom of Expression Citation National Board of Review
  • 2002 The Michael Landon Award for Community Service to Youth Twenty-Third Annual Young Artist Awards
  • 2001 Emmy Award, Best Documentary
  • 2001 Emmy Award, Best Background Analysis
  • 2001 Rotterdam International Film Festival Audience Award, Best Film
  • 2001 Munich Film Festival Freedom of Expression Award
  • 2001 Jerusalem Film Festival Special Festival Award
  • 2001 Locarno International Film Festival Special Ecumenical Jury Prize
  • 2001 San Francisco International Film Festival Audience Award, Best Documentary Grand Prize, Best Documentary Golden Gate Award, Documentary Film
  • 2001 Vancouver International Film Festival Audience Award, Diversity in Spirit Award
  • 2001 Hamptons International Film Festival Best Documentary
  • 2001 São Paulo International Film Festival Best Documentary Audience Award
  • 2001 Valladolid International Film Festival Best Documentary
  • 2001 Paris International Film Festival (Rencontres) Audience Award-Best Film

External links

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