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Promises (2001)

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Several Jewish and Palestinian children are followed for three years and put in touch with each other, in this alternative look at the Jewish-Palestinian conflict. The three filmmakers ... See full summary »


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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 13 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »
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Credited cast:
Moishe Bar Am ...
B.Z. Goldberg ...
Shlomo Green ...
Himself (as Schlomo)
Sanabel Hassan ...
Faraj Adnan Hassan Husein ...
Mahmoud Mazen Mahmoud Izhiman ...
Daniel Solan ...
Yarko Solan ...


Several Jewish and Palestinian children are followed for three years and put in touch with each other, in this alternative look at the Jewish-Palestinian conflict. The three filmmakers followed a group of seven local children between 1995 and 1998. They all have a totally different background. These seven children tell their own story about growing up in Jerusalem. Through this portrait of their generation, we see how deep rooted and almost insoluble the problems of the Middle East have become. When the protagonists speak out in an epilogue a couple of years later, it becomes apparent that all have lost their childlike innocence. Written by Sujit R. Varma

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




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Release Date:

20 December 2001 (Netherlands)  »

Also Known As:

Promesas  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$11,138 (USA) (15 March 2002)


$243,769 (USA) (13 December 2002)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Referenced in The Holiday (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

A Timely and Moving Film
17 June 2002 | by (Vancouver, B.C.) – See all my reviews

Shot by American-Israeli co-director, B.Z. Goldberg between 1997-2000, Promises is a timely and moving look at the Arab-Israeli conflict from the point of view of seven Israeli and Palestinian children including Arabs, Orthodox Jews and secular Jews. The film, which was nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary, gives truth to the biblical refrain that "a child shall lead them" and provides some hope for a better understanding from the next generation. Indeed, if adults were as open, honest, and giving as these children, there would be no more talk of checkpoints and terrorists and innocent people blown to bits.

Filmed in Israel and the West Bank Occupied Territories, we see an Israel rarely seen on CNN, a country of checkpoints and segregated corridors reinforced by violence.

Goldberg, a secular Jew who grew up in Jerusalem, studied film at New York University and worked as a journalist in Israel. He filmed 170 hours and narrowed it down to 106 minutes. Throughout the film, each child is interviewed separately and most recite the litany of hatred and misunderstanding that they have learned. Moishe, 12, lost his best friend in a Palestinian Intifada, while Faraj, a young Arab, mourns for his closest friend who was killed by an Israeli soldier. "The more Jews we kill, the stronger the Arabs will be", states a Palestinian boy. As the film progresses, a strong desire for peace and reconciliation emerges through the quiet, thoughtful questions posed by Goldberg.

Goldberg astonishingly brings the Israeli twins Yarko and Daniel to spend a day with their Palestinian neighbor Faraj. At first they maintain an aloofness but as the day progresses they forget all about their politics in a few hours of wrestling, playing ball, and eating a delicious meal. The most emotional moment comes when Faraq breaks down and cries because he realizes that when the cameras leave, everything will be the same as before and they will never see each other again. I couldn't see the next few minutes because of all the moisture in my eyes.

In a sad epilogue, the children are shown two years later, somewhat hardened in their attitudes, ready to sacrifice themselves for a futile conflict. Perhaps by now, some of them have blown themselves up in glorious martyrdom or were simply caught in the wrong place at the wrong time when a bomb went off. The most heartbreaking statement comes from one of the children who state, "The life we live doesn't allow us to accomplish our dreams".

Nevertheless, listening to these children, there has to be some reason for optimism. "In war both sides suffer," one of the Israeli twins says. "Maybe there's a winner, but what is a winner?" Perhaps what we need are more people like Yarko, Faraj and Goldberg to show us the way.

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