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4.5 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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(Nov 16, 2004)
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Product Description

This DVD purchase is for home use only. Please honor copyright law and the filmmakers.
If you are a school teacher, professor, librarian, community group or organization, you are required to purchase the Public Performance Rights to the film.
Please visit www.cinemaguild.com/catalog/promises.htm to purchase the Educational/Institutional package.

A beautiful and deeply moving portrait of seven Palestinian and Israeli children, PROMISES (2001) follows the journey of a filmmaker who meets these children in and around Jerusalem, from a Palestinian refugee camp to an Israeli settlement in the West Bank. Although they live only 20 minutes apart, these children exist in completely separate worlds, divided by physical, historical, and emotional boundaries. PROMISES explores the nature of these boundaries and tells the story of a few children who dared to cross the lines to meet their neighbors. The children of PROMISES offer refreshing, personal and sometimes humorous insight into the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. With remarkable balance and a compelling blend of pathos and humor, this Oscar-nominated, Emmy Award winning film moves the conflict out of politics and into the realm of the human. A Film By BZ Goldberg, Justine Shapiro, and Carlos Bolado. 102 minutes. In Arabic, Hebrew, and English with English subtitles. THIS DVD IS FOR HOME USE ONLY. Educators, community groups, and others seeking to screen the film publicly must contact the filmmakers to discuss purchasing public performance rights.


Promises presents a powerful portrait of seven Palestinian and Israeli children who live in and around Jerusalem. As filmmaker B.Z. Goldberg, who was raised in Israel, notes, "They live no more than 20 minutes from each other, but they are each growing up in very separate worlds." The children include Mahmoud, Shlomo, Sanabel, Faraj, Moishe, and twins Yarko and Daniel. With the exception of the latter, all are religious (the twins are the grandchildren of a Holocaust survivor). Most have strong political beliefs and have seen their share of tragedy--Faraj's friend was killed in front of him--but as the film makes clear, they're also kids. They like to watch TV, hold burping contests, and compete in sports (Faraj is a runner, Yarko and Daniel play volleyball). Promises doesn't attempt to explain them, but lets the kids speak for themselves. The results are funny, sad, and ultimately quite profound. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Special Features

  • Updated of the Israeli and Palestinian children filmed in August 2004
  • Footage from  the kid's journey to the 2002 Academy Awards
  • Deleted sequences
  • Original Theatrical trailer
  • Scene Selections

Product Details

  • Actors: B.Z. Goldberg
  • Directors: B.Z. Goldberg, Carlos Bolado, Justine Shapiro
  • Format: Color, Subtitled, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: Arabic, English, Hebrew
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: New Yorker Video
  • DVD Release Date: November 16, 2004
  • Run Time: 106 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00031TXGI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #79,994 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Promises" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. Higgins on December 27, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I just want to add my voice to the other reviewers who praise Promises. Their descriptions will give you a good idea about the films contents so I'll just say, this is a very moving and informative film. Most of my reviews are from the stand-point of a middle school teacher looking for materials to use in my class. This film is outstanding! It's the type of lesson you'll be excited to teach. If you are looking for something to use to explore and learn about Israel and Palestinian relations buy this DVD. I thought the length of the DVD would lose my students. I was wrong-- they stayed engaged through the whole film (about 3 class periods).
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If you believe in your heart that, despite every hurdle, peace is possible between the Israelis and Palestinians, this film will fill you with hope and wonder. That's not to say it's rosy - the children depicted in the film often exhibit anger and intolerance, but the mere act of recognition between the children of these two warring groups is enough to inspire faith in their futures. This film is a beautiful document of a precious, brave and tenuous experiment on the part of the filmmakers. May we all have the courage to try to guide the next generation into a more peaceful, more understanding world.

If 50 stars were possible, this film would have earned every one. Find ways to share the message with those you know, and those you don't. We must come together, and assist our Jewish and Arab brothers and sisters, however possible!
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I'm Jewish, and I just don't get what the two reviewers who maintain the film is slanted against Jews or Israel are talking about. I saw it at our synagogue one night, and I fail to see what they claim. "Promises" is not anti-Jewish nor pro-Palestinian: it is pro-humanity! It shows just how prejudiced both communities are, and how the poison of hate filters down to the children. If it is 'anti' anything, it is anti- hate, anti- bigotry, and pro- know-your-neighbor-as-yourself. There are several deeply profound moments in the film that can just blow you away (if your heart is open to it). The film demonstrates to the viewer the healing power of listening and being heard, and the wonderful natural ability of children to quickly 'see outside of the box', or in this case, see each other beyond what they've been taught: that the other is an 'enemy' to be distrusted. Instead, they readily can see that, in fact, they are much alike. They love the things that all children love. And, in the alchemy of one special moment, they have the vision (that most adults woefully lack) to imagine a life where they could live together, and even enjoy each other! Like one of the other reviewers, if there were more stars to give this film, I would not limit it to 5 stars. I wish all Palestinians and Israelis, Jews and Arabs, would see this wonderful film. There is such wisdom in these children that adults need to hear.
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Format: DVD
I just recently saw this documentary for the second time in its recently released DVD version. The Israeli and Palestinian children in Jerusalem and the West Bank that BZ Goldberg interviews, and whose lives we are given a glimpse into, are incredibly outspoken, articulate, often brutally honest and heartbreaking. From the Israeli boy who lives in a settlement in the West Bank, to the blue-eyed Palestinian boy in east Jerusalem, we hear about their daily realities, their fears, their studies and interests, and most telling of course, their opinions on the seemingly interminable conflict that they have known about and lived through their entire lives. The filmaker's and the movie's intent to focus on the children of the conflict does not simply pursue a cliched view that "if only children had their way, peace could be achieved." Rather, the children express a full range of emotions, beliefs and ideologies (some of which evolve and change during different points in the film) towards the situation and their perceptions of "the other"... from curiosity, to indifference, to hope for reconciliation, to anger and resentment. Such emotions and ideologies reflect the plurality of beliefs that exist among Israeli and Palestinian populations as a whole, in large part of course, because of the way in which different parents, leaders, teachers, media sources etc. help to pass down certain values and ways of understanding the situation to the next generation.

The most touching part of the documentary is an impromptu meeting that happens between some Palestinian kids in a West Bank refugee camp and Israeli twins from Jerusalem.
Read more ›
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Format: DVD
We watched this documentary in my World Geography class - a subject I had very little interest in, until recently. I've always heard about the West Bank on the news, but never knew much about what was going on. It's about religion, right? Well, yeah... sorta. It's more about land than religion. The Palesitnians and the Jews both claim rights to it through their decendant Abraham.

This documentary is so good because it is told from the standpoint of children. Through these kids, you hear generations of hate and misunderstanding passed down through parents. Somehow, through their eyes, everything is clearer. At times you hold out hope that this can be resolved and at times, no hope whatsoever. It's funny, sad, serious and lighthearted.

After class I went home and ordered the documentary online. I intend on watching it again and showing it to friends to help them get a clear understanding of what is going on over there. I rate this documentary with Trekkies and Supersize Me. It's not as funny as the other two, but definitely worth your time and money.
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