A new 3D film is coming to IMAX theatres depicting the story of the Holy City of Jerusalem and its interlocking faiths in a fresh and intimate way.
The 45-minute documentary follows three teenage girls– Revital
Zacharie, a Jew, Nadia Tadros, a Christian and Farah Ammouri, a Muslim –
and delicately explores the way in which the city plays a pivotal role
in their respective belief systems.
"Jerusalem is more than just a city. It is beauty, spirit, family. It is more than my religion," says Farah.
"No matter where we came from, we all trace our roots here. We are
walking the same stones as our ancestors," adds Revital, whose
grandfather escaped to the Middle Eastern city from Poland during the
Holocaust in which the rest of his family perished.
Describing Jerusalem as "a mosaic of cultures and beliefs, ancient
rituals, and secrets buried deep underground", the film sensitively
unpeels the layers of the ancient city that carries such remarkable
significance for the world's three largest faith groups.
Once known as "the cradle of civilisation", it is one of the most
fought over piece of land in history - having been conquered 44 times
and completely destroyed twice - and is beloved by over half of the
Benedict Cumberbatch provides the voiceover, inviting his audience to
"explore a land cherished by billions… [and] experience this ancient
city through the stories of the people who call it home".
"Jerusalem is the history of heaven and earth," he declares. "The city on a hill that binds together the hopes of the world."
Unique aerial photography sets this documentary apart from many
others which have taken on the daunting task of capturing the majesty of
Jerusalem on screen, giving the audience breathtaking insight into the
beauty of the Holy City, its people and their practices. It's impossible
not to be captivated by the stunning scenery and sheer elegance of the
city and its surrounding landscape.
Written records and archaeological findings are used to portray
Jerusalem at the height of its splendour, showing places of huge
significance to the beliefs of millions around the world - the garden of
Gethsemane, the River Jordan and Temple Mount where Christians believe
Abraham prepared his son Isaac as a sacrifice, David bought the Ark of
the Covenant, and King Solomon built his Temple. Biblical stories are
thus brought to life in fascinating detail.
The ancient rituals still undertaken by Jews, Christians and Muslims
in Jerusalem today are also documented, including Passover, Easter and
Ramadan, and the rare perspective offered by the three young girls and
their families allows the audience an intimate glimpse into life as a
The way in which the three faiths coexist is remarkable, though the
documentary reveals that there are still misunderstandings in spite of
living so closely.
In a Q&A session following the premiere last night at the IMAX
Waterloo in London, producers Taran Davies and George Duffield said they
hope the film will have a positive impact on relationships between
different religious groups in Jerusalem.
The three girls on which the documentary focuses have very little to
do with one another and give an insight as to how many Jerusalemites
live "side by side with invisible walls between them", Davies said.
"We hope this documentary will help break those walls down."
That hope is echoed by the young Jerusalemite women, giving the film an element of anticipation and hopefulness for the future.
"I hope one day we have the courage to meet the people living right
next to us...maybe not today. But someday, yes," Revital concludes.
The Damaris Trust is providing free community resources to accompany
the documentary upon its release at Odeon BFI IMAX on January 17,
including a selection of free talk illustrations for church speakers in
addition to background and contextual information.
To see what's on offer, go to www.damaris.org/jerusalem