“The Stones Cry Out,” a film that examines the plight of Palestinian Christians, will premiere in Philadelphia at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27 at St. Paul’s Church, 22 E. Chestnut Hill Ave, in the church itself.
Filmmaker Yasmine Perni will be present to introduce the movie and answer questions. The Palestinian Christians in the film are the direct descendants of the first Christians to follow Jesus. They are often called the “forgotten faithful” in the current Middle East crisis.
Media coverage portrays Palestinians as Muslims when, in fact, they include both Muslims and Christians. In 1948, Elias Chacour, now Archbishop of the Galilee, was just a little boy when Israeli troops ordered his family out of the Christian village of Kir Bir’am. He remembers leaving his home with a blanket on his shoulder and having to take up residence with his family in a cave.
Today the village of Kir Bir’am has been turned into a national park forbidding any possibility of return. The church there is abandoned.
The story continues with the preemptive, surprise attack by Israel in the Six- Day War that expropriated the West Bank. Then came the settlements that continue to take more land for Israeli villages and the separation barrier or wall that has hemmed in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus.
In the film, leading Palestinian Christians, including the late president of Beit Zeit University Gabi Baramki, Palestinian leader Hanan Ashrawi, civil society activist Ghassan Andoni, Patriarch Emeritus Michel Sabbah and others recount the unwavering and sometimes desperate struggle of all Palestinians to live on their land and resist the occupation under which they must live.
The film is all the more important for understanding issues currently being discussed in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians under the auspices of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
Filmmaker Yasmine Perni returned to her native Italy after living in the Middle East from age 13. After working as a journalist, photographer and television producer, she went into documentary filmmaking, inspired by the Christians of Palestine whose story of perseverance and pride have been largely overlooked.
This is her first experience of producing and writing a documentary. She conducted extensive research, combed through official Palestinian, Israeli, and U.N. film archives, and traveled the length and breadth of historic Palestine to make this picture.
St. Paul’s Church is providing the only Philadelphia showing of “The Stones Cry Out” in a 10-city tour. For more information, visit the website www.thestonescryoutmovie.com, and that of St. Paul’s Church www.stpaulschestnuthill.org.
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