Promises (2001 film)

Promises is a 2001 documentary film that examines the Israeli–Palestinian conflict from the perspectives of seven children living in the Palestinian communities in the West Bank and Israeli neighborhoods of Jerusalem. Promises has been shown at many film festivals and received excellent reviews and many accolades.

Promises (film).jpg
Directed byCarlos Bolado
B.Z. Goldberg
Justine Shapiro
Produced byB.Z. Goldberg
Justine Shapiro
StarringMoishe and Raheli Bar Am
Faraj Adnan Hassan Husein
Mahmoud Mazen Mahmoud Izhiman
Daniel Solan
Yarko Solan
Sanabel Hassan
CinematographyIlan Buchbinder
Yoram Millo
Edited byCarlos Bolado
Music byWim Mertens
Distributed byCowboy Pictures
Release date
  • January 30, 2001 (2001-01-30)
Running time
106 minutes
CountryUnited States

The film follows Israeli-American filmmaker B.Z. Goldberg as he meets with seven Palestinian and Israeli children between the ages of nine and thirteen, seeing the Middle East conflict through their eyes. It allows "ordinary" kids to develop natural bonds of affection by simply playing games with each other - bonds which go beyond the clutter of prejudices that they have heard from their parents and others around them.


Promises was shot between 1997 and 2000 and was produced in association with the Independent Television Service with partial funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The film has a running time of 106 minutes, and includes Arabic, Hebrew and English dialogue with English subtitles.

In 2004 the filmmakers' produced a follow-up program called Promises: Four Years On, which features interviews and updates on the children's current lives. It lasts 25 minutes and is included as a special feature on the film's DVD release.

The childrenEdit

  • Daniel and Yarko: Israeli boys living in west Jerusalem, secular Jews, put off more by religious Jews than Palestinians; grandsons of Holocaust survivor
  • Shlomo: Jewish quarter in Jerusalem, Orthodox, son of a rabbi from Jerusalem
  • Moishe: lives in Beit-El in the West-Bank, dislikes the Arabs.
  • Faraj: lives in the Deheishe refugee camp in the West Bank, Palestinian; son of Palestinian refugees
  • Mahmoud: Palestinian quarter in East Jerusalem; son of a merchant in the Muslim quarter of the Old City
  • Sanabel: Palestinian lives also in the Deheishe refuge camp, father is in prison because he was affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Her brother died from heatstroke, he was also in prison.


Critical responseEdit

Promises has an approval rating of 96% on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 47 reviews, and an average rating of 7.81/10. The website's critical consensus states, "A heartbreaking and illuminating look at the Israeli and Palestinian conflict through the eyes of children".[1] Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 80 out of 100, based on 16 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[2]


  • Best Documentary, 74th Academy Awards[3]
  • Best Documentary, IFP Spirit Awards
  • Truer than Fiction Award, IFP Spirit Awards


  • 2002 The NBR Freedom of Expression Citation National Board of Review
  • 2002 The Michael Landon Award for Community Service to Youth Twenty-Third Annual Young Artist Awards
  • 2001 Emmy Award, Best Documentary
  • 2001 Emmy Award, Best Background Analysis
  • 2001 Rotterdam International Film Festival Audience Award, Best Film
  • 2001 Munich Film Festival Freedom of Expression Award
  • 2001 Jerusalem Film Festival Special Festival Award
  • 2001 Locarno International Film Festival Special Ecumenical Jury Prize
  • 2001 San Francisco International Film Festival Audience Award, Best Documentary Grand Prize, Best Documentary Golden Gate Award, Documentary Film
  • 2001 Vancouver International Film Festival Audience Award, Diversity in Spirit Award
  • 2001 Hamptons International Film Festival Best Documentary
  • 2001 São Paulo International Film Festival Best Documentary Audience Award
  • 2001 Valladolid International Film Festival Best Documentary
  • 2001 Paris International Film Festival (Rencontres) Audience Award-Best Film


  1. ^ "Promises". Rotten Tomatoes.
  2. ^ "Promises". Metacritic.
  3. ^ "NY Times: Promises". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-04-12. Retrieved 2008-11-23.

External linksEdit