Bridge Over The Wadi

Bridge Over The Wadi


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

The Bridge Over the Wadi school was founded to teach Arabic and Israeli students, in both Hebrew and Arabic, simultaneously. The parents who sent their children there hoped that by allowing the children to get to know each other they might be able to escape the ancient enmity, to avoid "burden[ing] our kids with our opinions".

The film of the same name follows the first year of the school's operation, specifically its 3rd Grade class. We see them in school, on field trips, at each other's homes for dinner and sleepovers.

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This is powerful filmmaking, upsetting and uplifting in equal measure. There are moments of genuine humour, but some sequences, in particular the antics of a grandmother, leave one open-mouthed in shock. The Bridge Over the Wadi school is a brave and bold project, and it's easy to feel for the staff as they struggle with the prejudices of the parents, and as they second guess each other and themselves.

Despite the goal of the school being integration, it splits into two on the anniversary of Israel's founding - as the Jews celebrate Yom Haatzmaut, the Palestinians hold events for Nakba (Disaster) Day. Then there's the homework assignment that consists of a single question: "Does Israel have a right to exist?"

For most of the film, it's the parents and teachers we see, but the most affecting sequences let the children speak for themselves. At 8 or 9, they are coming to an awareness of the world around them, if as yet uncertain as to their place within it. While some of the situations and opinions depicted would approach irony if they weren't horrifying, Bridge Over the Wadi holds enough hope to enthrall.

Reviewed on: 24 Aug 2007
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A cinematic attempt to bridge the cultural divide between Arabs and Israelis.

Read more Bridge Over The Wadi reviews:

Chris ****

Director: Tomer Heymann, Barak Heymann

Year: 2006

Runtime: 55 minutes

Country: Israel


EIFF 2007

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