Within the eye of the storm is a 2012 documentary by director Shelley Hermon that tells the true story of Bassam Aramin, a Muslim Palestinian, and Rami Elhanan, a Jewish Israeli, who were once sworn enemies engaged in armed struggle against each other. Today the men are friends and allies, working as members of Combatants for Peace to help Israelis and Palestinians understand each other’s narrative. Both are also members of the Bereaved Families Forum, because each of them has lost a child to their people’s shared history of violence: Aramin’s 10-year-old daughter was shot by an Israeli soldier one day after leaving school; Elhanan’s 14-year-old daughter was killed by a Palestinian suicide bomber in a street mall in Jerusalem. In the wake of these excruciating losses, both set out on a joint journey to humanize the enemy so that the vicious cycle of retaliation would not spread their own pain to others. Along the way they developed a surprising friendship—and even a shared sense of humor—that sustains them both in their lives and work and inspires many others.
The film—and its accompanying study guide—is shown to high school students in both Israel and Palestine. Readers can rent or purchase the film from The Forgiveness Project.
Incendies is a 2010 film by Canadian director Denis Villeneuve, who adapted the story from Wajdi Mouawad’s play of the same name. Incendies tells the story of fraternal adult twins who are given an assignment when their mother dies: to travel to her native country—an unnamed war-torn nation in the Middle East thought to be Lebanon—and find the father they never knew and the half-brother they never knew they had. The long and complicated plot is gut-wrenching at every turn and packs an incredible surprise punch at the end. The film deals obliquely with the topic of forgiveness in the twins’ need to come to terms with the difficult personality of their deceased mother. But the need to forgive even those who have committed the most unspeakable acts is made clear by the film’s ending, which critic Roger Ebert called “stunning in its impact.”
Incendies was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2011 (losing to In a Better World from Denmark). The New York Times’s Stephen Holden also named it one of the 10 best films of 2011, and the film picked up eight awards at the 31st Genie Awards, including Best Motion Picture, Best Actress for Lubna Azabal, who played the deceased mother appearing in a series of flashbacks, and Best Director for Villeneuve. Among other film festival awards, Incendies also won the Prix Jutra for Best Film, Director, Screenplay, Actress (Azabal), Editing, Cinematography, Art Direction, Costumes and Sound. It is available to rent on Netflix and other outlets.