News‎ > ‎

Documentary on Arab Jews to Be Shown at WFU Thursday

posted Apr 7, 2014, 2:26 PM by Interfaith WS   [ updated Apr 7, 2014, 2:27 PM ]

Kathy Wazana, a Casablanca-born film maker who now resides in Canada, will be screening her 2013 documentary They Were Promised the Sea:  Arab Jews between Homeland and Promised Land at Wake Forest University Thursday, April 10, in Kirby B 02 at 6:30 p.m.  A conversation and Q and A will follow the film.  Follow this link to a 3-minute trailer for the film.

Wanza says They Were Promised the Sea is the story of the complexity of Arab Jewish identity. The film is a stunning visual, lyrical and musical meditation on loss and longing, hope and the possibilities of coexistence.

Informed by the director’s family history, the film investigates the circumstances surrounding the mass migration of Jews from Morocco, an exodus inextricably linked to the dispossession and exile of the Palestinian people. Startling interviews with witnesses to the evacuation campaign orchestrated by Israel, and Jewish Moroccans who chose to stay as well as some who left, challenge the commonly-held belief that Jews were expelled or forced to leave Morocco.

Live-performance recordings of Andalusian and Sephardic music in Arabic, Ladino and Hebrew, thread the subjects’ storylines and reveal a little-known history of a people who resisted the separation of Arab and Jew, and a country still grieving the loss of its Jewish population.  

They Were Promised the Sea is an intimate journey shot in Morocco, Israel-Palestine, and New York. Kathy's research into her family origins in Morocco unleashed a complex web of questions about dual identity, political opportunism, and the challenges faced by those torn between Homeland and Promised Land.

Kathy Wazana gives us unique access to a cast of characters that includes a Jewish advisor to the King of Morocco, the director of the only Jewish museum in the Arab world, a Muslim-Moroccan musician/jeweller who longs for the return of his Jewish friends from Israel, and a Moroccan-Israeli living in exile in New York, whose poetry is dedicated to Palestinian national poet Mahmoud Darwish.

The sounds of peace

The film’s haunting score consists of original recordings of Andalusian and Sephardic music, performed in Arabic, Hebrew and Ladino. In one memorable scene, a Rabbi and an Imam, backed by a Sufi orchestra, performing liturgical poetry to Andalusian music in Hebrew and Arabic, seamlessly moving from Adonai to Allah, and providing a breathtaking glimpse of the genuinely symbiotic relationship of Jewish and Muslim Arab cultural heritage.