Little Town of Bethlehem

Written by Mario Mattei

When visual media documents peacemakers, can it influence more peace? When it documents hatred, can it lead to more violence? If so, this means media can compound a situation. Depending on “the angle” taken, the compounding effect could lead to more fear and despair, or to more hope, compassion, and more peacemaking efforts.

How can visual media document peacemakers in conflict regions while not ignoring injustices and do so in a way that influences more peace and hope? I want to direct you to a documentary that models this.

How many have given up hope for the conflict in Israel Palestine? Has mainstream media compounded the situation into being more polarized because of it’s focus on binary opponents and manifestations of violence? One U.S. senator said, “the non-violence movement in Israel Palestine is the world’s best kept secret.” Well today on this blog, it’s no longer a secret.

I’m honored (and totally stoked) to introduce you to the feature length documentary Little Town of Bethlehem by writer director Jim Hanon.

We’ve seen Visual Peacemaking manifested in single photo journalistic images, in galleries of human beauty & dignity, in visual vignettes and narratives of various cultures (here & here), and in micro-documentaries (here & here & here). But there’s more...

Little Town of Bethlehem (LTOB) is currently the best feature length documentary I’ve seen that embodies Visual Peacemaking. It’s approach to narrative is through interviews and personal stories. There is no voiceover narratation for expositional information. Hanon utilizes archival footage, his own visuals on location, and some reinactment. An unlikely variety of music genres are implemented. Bits of Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr.’s parrallel stories are interwoven, giving the theme added context and texture.  What effect do you see these treatments having on viewers? How can you employ these in your work?

LTOB is an examplary example of Visual Peacemaking in the feature length documentary style, but there’s more create. Likewise, we’ve just scratched the surface of Visual Peacemaking images, galleries, and photo stories in our movement. In the IGVP we should be determined to find more examples, catalyze more, and create more ourselves in every genre that suits us.

When passion and amibtion intermingle in the soil of humility, compassion, and resolve, good things are bound to happen. Add to this community and teamwork, and great things are bound to happen.