By Ray Hanania
A full-length documentary on the challenges facing peace between Palestinians and Israelis, “A People without a Land” was named as the winner of the “Best Documentary Category” at the 2015 Pasadena International Film Festival.
The documentary is produced by the husband and wife team of Eliyahu and Pennie Ungar-Sargon and explores the issue of the “Two State Solution” versus the “One State Solution.” It asks the tough question of Israelis, do they want a “Jewish State,” or do they want a “Democracy.”
The documentary asserts that the Two-State solution which would result in two states, Israel and Palestine, is unachievable. It offers fascinating insight into the challenges of achieving peace and includes interviews with moderates and extremists to showcase the difficulty of overcoming the challenges.
The announcement was made Sunday, February 15, 2015 in Pasadena during the six-day festival where more than 80 films were screened at a dozen theaters in the Pasadena area.
Awards were also presented to: Eric Roberts (Academy Award Nominee) – Lifetime Achievement Award; Tom Lenk – Comedic Mastery Award; Sadie Calvano – Rising Star Award; Doris Roberts – Lifetime Achievement Award; and, Jason Ritter – Breakthrough Performance Award.
The Ungar-Sargon’s describe the premise of “A People without a Land” on their film’s website.
“For decades, the prevailing wisdom has been that the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would come in the form of a two-state solution. Typically, this is formulated as an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and the establishment of a Palestinian state there and in the Gaza Strip,” they write.
“Unfortunately, with half a million Israeli settlers living throughout the West Bank and millions of Palestinian refugees demanding to return to their homes in Israel, the two-state solution no longer seems practical, let alone just. ‘A People Without a Land’ explores the notion that the only real solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a one-state solution. Spending time with people from across the political spectrum, including settlers, politicians, activists and unique individuals who have successfully crossed the ethnic divide, we explore the challenges that lie ahead as well as the possibilities that such a solution might entail.”
Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon grew up in an Orthodox Jewish family in Brookline, MA. When he was 13 years old, his family moved to Israel where he lived until he was 19, according to his official bio.
Upon earning his Bagrut matriculation, Eliyahu decided not to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces with his peers choosing instead to study Medicine in the UK. Three years into his MD degree, he decided to abandon Medicine to pursue a career in film. After earning two degrees from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Eliyahu completed his first feature-length documentary, Cut: Slicing Through the Myths of Circumcision. He has since completed Generation Gap, a short, minimalist documentary about the impact of the Holocaust on three generations of his family. A People Without a Land is his second feature-length documentary.
Pennie Ungar-Sargon grew up outside of Chicago and now lives in Los Angeles. She has a background in sales and marketing, and experience in documentary production and distribution.
In 2007, Pennie Ungar-Sargon founded White Letter Productions and produced the critically acclaimed documentary Cut: Slicing Through the Myths of Circumcision. This documentary has screened internationally and was most recently featured at the 2014 Pasadena Film Festival. She is a proud member of MENSA, holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, studied Medicine in England, and recently completed an MBA at DePaul University.
The final program of the Pasadena International Film Festival showcased 86 features, shorts, documentaries and web series from all over the world. The 2015 program will showcase work from industry veterans such as Mark Kirkland (The Simpsons); Doris Roberts(Everybody Loves Raymond); and Academy Award Nominatee Eric Roberts (The Dark Knight), as well as from some of Hollywood’s emerging stars like Jason Ritter (Parenthood); Sarah Drew (Grey’s Anatomy); and Kevin Ryan (Crossbones). With such an expansive and broad film selection, PIFF has also announced the extension of its festival through Presidents’ Day. Films will screen February 11 – 16, 2015 at the Laemmle Playhouse 7 Theater in the heart of Pasadena, CA.
Doris Roberts and Eric Roberts not only star in films screening at PIFF this year, but will also receive Lifetime Achievement Awards. PIFF will also honor Tom Lenk (The Cabin in the Woods) with the Comedic Mastery Award and Sadie Calvano (Mom) with the Rising Star Award. Honorees will receive their awards on Thursday, February 12, 2015 as part of PIFF’s Opening Night Gala.
The Pasadena International Film Festival is the one and only competitive film festival in Pasadena, CA. It was founded in 2013 by Jessica Hardin, an industry veteran and Pasadena resident. PIFF aims to bring high-caliber, international cinema to a city well-renowned for its love of culture and the arts.
Click here to visit the Facebook Page of “A People without a Land.”
Watch the trailer of “A People without a Land” here:
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Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.
"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."
Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.
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