If International Law was as strong as the Wall, there wouldn’t be one!
The Producer’s Statement
“[…] a first-rate documentary that sheds a great deal of light on the intersection between law and politics in one of the world’s most persistent trouble spots.”Avi Shlaim
“Never have I heard judges speak so frankly about international law; this film will spark a cutting debate! It’s a must for any law library.”Professor Jean Ziegler
The Genesis of BROKEN
Producer and Initiator
of the BROKEN Project
As a delegate of the International Committee of the Red Cross, and later as head of the UN’s Barrier Monitoring Unit, and now as a film producer, I have been working on documenting the Wall’s impacts since 2005. I put my life’s blood into a job which could only be done by an outsider. When my Unit was disbanded in May 2013 due to lack of funds and lack of will, my job came to a sudden end. I asked myself, could I blithely leave my work there and continue my career elsewhere. Could I morally live with myself if I simply dropped my work and moved on to another job? Could I ignore a subject which I knew in more depth than almost anyone else? Could I abandon all these countless people, and all the communities directly impacted by the Wall, without regret?
Read the entire Producer's Statement
We live in a world where international hard borders are built faster and in greater numbers than ever before in history, almost 70 since the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Great Wall in China was obsolete by the time it was finished. Northern Ireland’s Peace Walls have little reputation for that. An American President is intent on building a wall making those to be shut out pay for it.
The Israeli government, in 2002, began the construction of a 700 km-long wall in the West Bank on the Palestinian side of the “Green Line”. Two years later, in its 2004 Advisory Opinion, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague declared the construction of a wall within occupied Palestinian territory illegal. The Palestinians and many in the international community saw the Court’s opinion as a turning point in the protracted conflict. Today, over 14 years later, the result is sobering: Israel has neither desisted from the Wall, which is twice as high and four times as long as the Berlin Wall, nor made any reparations. On the contrary, the Wall is nearing completion and most States have made little effort to secure compliance, although under an obligation to do so.
BROKEN– A Palestinian Journey Through International Law is a compelling documentary about international law, its broken promises, the ICJ, Israel’s Wall in Palestine, and the international community’s duties and omissions; a tangled web of law, politics and power, and how history refuses to turn the page. Powerful scenes portray the consequences of the Wall on the people whose daily lives are affected. The film provides candid testimonies of internationally renowned law experts, ICJ judges, seasoned diplomats and the Israeli military
officer who built the Wall. Catch this important moment when the filmmaker travels across three continents to reach out to
the very people whose deliberations are those shaping the future of International Law, Human Rights and, ultimately, Peace.
The film has been inspired and produced by a former UN expert on monitoring the humanitarian impacts of
the Wall in the West Bank.
Currently one of the major documentary directors of Palestinian cinematography, Mohammed Alatar was trained as a filmmaker at the end of the 90’s in the USA.
His past working experiences include positions as Future Stories Director for CBS News, Media Advisor to UNDP and the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs. In 2002, he founded and directed « Palestinian for Peace and Democracy».
With a profound commitment to human rights and his people’s struggle, Mohammed Alatar defines himself more as a human rights activist than as a filmmaker. He uses his work to promote his ideas and convictions around the world, giving scope to the causes and values that he defends. His mentors are Oliver Stone and the Egyptian director Yousef Chahin, who are « people who make movies with a message, not just entertainment ».
In 2006, Mohammed Alatar released « The Iron Wall », a film about the establishment of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which also covers the controversial construction of the Israeli Wall in the West Bank. The film argues that settlements are the visible aspect of a strategy for permanent occupation of the territory. «The Iron Wall» follows the timeline of the settlements and examines their effect on the peace process.
Referring to the Wall and the film, former US President Jimmy Carter said: “The best description of the barrier, it’s routing and impact is shown in the film The Iron Wall.”
In 2008, Mohammed Alatar released “Jerusalem the East Side”, one of the most- viewed political documentaries in Palestine. It presents the effects and injustices of the 42-year Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem”.
His current documentary project, « Broken » attempts to explain why nothing has been done to stop Israel from continuing to build the Wall, and why after the ICJ declared it illegal in 2004 it has not been dismantled.
From my house in the occupied Palestinian city of Ramallah I can see how the Wall encircles the city, blocking our horizon and imposing itself on the way we live, move and exist.
My first major film, “The Iron Wall”, was about this very subject. It was released a few months after the 2004 International Court of Justice’s Advisory Opinion. Then, I had hoped soon to see the end of the story of the Wall and its dismantlement. How naïve I was; the Wall is still there, titanic.
So when Stefan Ziegler, former head of the UN’s Barrier Monitoring Unit, suggested making a documentary about the ICJ opinion, my immediate answer was “yes”. The idea of “Broken” was born.
Our combined experience and the existence of enormous amounts of film archives from that time, allow us to reconstruct more than a decade of the Wall piece-by-piece, zooming in on the trail the Wall has left on the ground and in the International Community.
Many questions haunt me. What was the cause behind the international community’s failure to uphold the legal obligations, including “to respect and to ensure respect” of international humanitarian law? How can two UN resolutions and an ICJ Advisory Opinion be so easily disregarded, without action? Who is to be held responsible for such a failure? What does the failure to implement these high-level decisions mean for international (humanitarian) law and its relevance today? And where can the people whose lives were ruined by the Wall seek justice, and by which means? “Broken” is my attempt to address these questions.
“Broken” takes a direct and factual approach to the story, coming in from different angles and capturing the reality of the Wall. The story is supported by a very distinguished group of characters: judges, diplomats, experts, United Nations officials as well as Israeli and Palestinian voices. When the last image of “Broken” fades from the screen, some of these questions will be answered, others will be raised, and a whole tangled web of law, politics and power is exposed.
History & Facts
Palestine was among former Ottoman territories placed under UK administration by the League of Nations in 1922. From 1922 to 1947, there was large-scale Jewish immigration. Israel proclaimed its independence and in the 1948 war involving neighbouring Arab States expanded to 77 percent of the territory of mandate Palestine. Over half of the Palestinian Arab population fled or were expelled. In the 1967 war, Israel occupied the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, the remaining Arab-controlled territories. The war brought about a second exodus of Palestinians, estimated at half a million. The Security Council in resolution 242 formulated the principles of a just and lasting peace, including an Israeli withdrawal from territories occupied in the conflict, a just settlement of the refugee problem, and the termination of all claims or states of belligerency. Subsequent negotiations culminated in the signing in 1993 by Israel and the Palestinians of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements (“Oslo Accords”), which deferred certain issues.
Various further negotiations failed to yield a permanent status agreement. In 2000 began a second intifada (“uprising”) by the Palestinians, the first having been between 1987 and 1993. In 2002 Israel began the construction of a West Bank separation wall, located mostly within the Occupied Palestinian Territory, ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice. A new round of negotiations begun in 2013 was suspended by Israel in April 2014. Another round of fighting between Israel and Gaza took place in July-August 2014.
Excerpted from HISTORY OF THE QUESTION OF PALESTINE, The United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL) Click here
Interview with Christine Leuenbergerہ, Border Studies Expert.
Learning Tools & Opportunities
BROKEN is of educational value. Stefan Ziegler, producer and initiator of the film, has 20 years of humanitarian experience and a background in praxis-oriented training and lecturing internationally. Find his carefully crafted educational tools for a variety of audiences and events.
For more information click here
Film Events & the Media
Behind the Scenes
Film Events & the Media
International law gave a clear ruling agains Israel’s wall. But nothing happened – 29 July 2018;
Professor Emeritus Avi Shlaim, published in: Middle East Eye
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(limited company) is a Geneva-based film
production company whose strategy is to partner with
aid organisations, in Geneva, the humanitarian capital of
the world, as well as with academic institutions anywhere to
produce short and medium-length films. We have produced some
short educational film clips for university programmes and as
a company “BROKEN” is our first major documentary film
production. We are a small team of specialists with expertise
in humanitarian and development related work with
a common understanding of the importance film
projects play in giving voice to the
AdvocacyProductions Sàrl (limited company) is a Geneva-based film production company whose strategy is to partner with aid organisations, in Geneva, the humanitarian capital of the world, as well as with academic institutions anywhere to produce short and medium-length films. We have produced some short educational film clips for university programmes and as a company “BROKEN” is our first major documentary film production. We are a small team of specialists with expertise in humanitarian and development related work with a common understanding of the importance film projects play in giving voice to the voiceless.