Note: One of the main people featured in this film, Juliano Mer-Khamis, was killed on Monday, April 4th, 2011. Mer-Khamis founded The Freedom Theater, and was an internationally renowned actor, teacher and humanitarian. His memory lives on through this film.
What happens when Palestinian youth must choose between the art of theater and a life of violence or even martyrdom? Philanthropist and filmmaker Charles Annenberg Weingarten and the explore.org Team enter the most radicalized refugee camp in the Palestinian Occupied Territories and discover that perhaps the greatest tool of liberation is not the gun, but the stage.
At the center of a labyrinth of graffiti-covered streets lies the Jenin Freedom Theatre, founded in the 1980s to dissuade youth from entering a life of hostility. Juliano Mer-Khamis, director of the theater, takes Charlie on an eye-opening journey through Jenin, where Israeli soldiers regularly patrol and suspicious behavior too often ends in gunfire. As he walks the dirt roads with Juliano, Charlie is presented with a rare and risky opportunity: the chance to meet Zakaria Zubeidi, whom Israelis consider the most dangerous terrorist in Palestine.
Though Charlie battles his nerves on the way to meet Zubeidi, his notions of “terrorist” are immediately challenged when he encounters a gentle family man who dreams of a future where Israelis and Palestinians can live together in harmony. Stereotypes are shattered as it becomes clear that the terrorist images portrayed on Western television tell only a small part of the story.
explore.org is a philanthropic multimedia organization that makes documentary films and photographs to showcase extraordinary nonprofit efforts and leaders around the world.
Through fact-finding missions to identify potential grant recipients, members of the explore.org Team see first hand where and how possible financial support might be used. explore.org opens the door to a world most people never get to see -- one that has been neglected by the mainstream media. Viewers meet the people affected by positive change catalyzed by philanthropy, and just as importantly, the leaders creating it.
explore.org’s films and images document how people from all over the world, from every walk of life, are taking positive steps that have local impact and global relevance. Inspirational content for the web, television and theatrical viewing include interviews, conversations and stories with local heroes. Its multimedia portal brings these individuals together as a collective voice that celebrates and encourages selfless acts of giving.
explore.org strives to personalize the business of philanthropy while rediscovering the human element. The Team’s missions have led them to places where suffering is met with compassion and where the human spirit is kept alive by people who have dedicated their lives to humanity, not material gain.
Among explore.org’s founding principles are “Share What You Know” and “Never Stop Learning.” These concepts have guided the team through Tanzania, Ethiopia, Ghana, Sudan, Darfur, Rwanda, China, Tibet, India, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, The Vatican, The Arctic, Greenland, Costa Rica, Canada and many U.S. cities.
The journey for the explore.org Team continues with its core mission in mind -- to champion the selfless acts of others to inspire a revolution of giving.
explore.org is based on a concept developed by and advanced under the leadership of Charles Annenberg Weingarten, with the support of the Annenberg Foundation.