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Hamas - Behind the Mask

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School Bd/College/University DVD: $250
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Grade Level: SrH-Adult
Producer: Bishari Films
Closed Captioned: No
Running Time: 50 mins
Country of Origin: Canada
Study Guide: No

Copyright Date: 2005
Available in French: Yes

This 50 minute journalistic exploration by acclaimed documentary filmmaker Shelley Saywell takes the viewer beyond the headlines and into the daunting, determined minds and hearts of Hamas, a movement formed in 1987 with one declared aim - to destroy the hard-won New State of Israel through Jihad: through applied resistance to Israel's occupation of what Palestinians perceived - and continue to perceive - as their ancestral land.

Saywell and her small, two-person crew spent many months securing unprecedented access to not only the current leaders of Hamas, but also to one-on-one interviews with insightful, knowledgeable Israelis and Palestinians not often heard from.

A crucially important resource was consultant Olivia Ward, a veteran Toronto Star journalist whose intimate knowledge of, and credibility within, the region proved invaluable.

Hamas: Behind the Mask captures Hamas at a transformative moment in its relatively short history, when in process of shifting from an internationally condemned terrorist organization that has claimed many Israeli lives to a legitimate contender for popular political status on that same world stage.

In Saywell's Behind the Mask there are no clearly identifiable monsters: only competing claimants to a harshly, passionately contested strip of land.

Viewers may find themselves shedding tears for all those claimants here: both hopeful Jewish Israelis who have seen those hopes of peace and security in the promised land dashed, and Palestinians who feel marginalized, disenfranchised and betrayed.

CAUTION: Some frightening scenes.