THEY WERE PROMISED THE SEA

By Kathy WAZANA

FILM MARKET ACCESS INC - as CONS

Documentary - Completed 2012

They Were Promised the Sea is the story of men and women whose identity as Arab Jews challenges the very notion of enemy. Shot in Morocco and in Israel-Palestine, it is part historical investigation, part poetic and musical essay on loss and longing, on hope and the possibilities of coexistence.

    • Year of production
    • 2012
    • Genres
    • Documentary
    • Countries
    • CANADA
    • Languages
    • ENGLISH, FRENCH
    • Budget
    • 0 - 0.3 M$
    • Duration
    • 70 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Kathy WAZANA
    • Producer(s)
    • Kathy WAZANA (Bicom)
    • Synopsis
    • They Were Promised the Sea is the story of men and women whose identity as Arab Jews challenges the very notion of enemy. Shot in Morocco and in Israel-Palestine, it is part historical investigation, part poetic and musical essay on loss and longing, on hope and the possibilities of coexistence.
      This feature documentary is an investigation into the circumstances that led to the exodus of Jews from Morocco. Were Jews expelled from Morocco, as some have claimed? What role did Israel’s need to « judaïze the land » play in the campaign to transfer Jews out of the Arab world? Why did the Moroccan authorities facilitate the departure of Jewish citizens at the same time that the King pleaded with them not to leave? As we meet actors and witnesses to the evacuation campaign led by Israel and the Jewish Agency, and to efforts by entire villages to prevent their Jewish neighbours from leaving, the commonly held belief that Jews were expelled or forced to leave Morocco takes on a new meaning. Along the way, other myths are shattered.
      This history will be uncovered through the personal stories of Sami, Shira, Maurice, Jojo and David. Israelis born in Morocco or of Moroccan parents, they long to return to their ancestral homeland. Some of them will make the journey; the others hesitate, preferring to keep their memories intact, or are afraid that they will want to stay there.
      Our investigation helps to reframe the exiles and exoduses that followed the creation of the State of Israel in the context of the 2500-year history of Jewish-Arab coexistence, a history suppressed because it doesn’t fit the Zionist ideology that dictates the creation of an exclusively Jewish State.
      Sami Shalom Chetrit’s lucid, hard-hitting poetry, dedicated to Mahmoud Darwish (“The tapestry of my life is Jewish lies in Arabic embroidery”), locates Arab Jews in Israel as both victim and oppressor; Shira Ohayon’s emotional journey exposes the dispossession suffered by Jews who were torn from their ancestral homelands to help build a Jewish State, a "homeland for the dispossessed" that ultimately rejects them unless they are willing to strip away their Arabness.
      Original recordings of Andalusian and Sephardic music, performed in Arabic, Hebrew and Ladino, form the score of the film and one of the threads linking the subjects’ storylines.
      They Were Promised the Sea gives voice to those who refuse the separation of Jew and Arab: the heirs of a common heritage who may hold the key to a "New Seville". Those who, like me, call themselves Arab Jews.
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