Julie's account on Palestine

Aarhus Film Workshop lent our residency at The Danish House in Palestine in November 2017 to Julie Budtz Sørensen. This is her account:

DHIP and Aarhus Film Workshop gave me the opportunity, for the first time in my life, to visit Palestine, a country I have dreamt of visiting in many years. It’s a country which is characterized by an overwhelming history, as well as the very present conflicts, which we were constantly reminded of while we were there.

As a screenwriter, I had one errand with the visit: doing research for a bigger project about spirituality and identity. Therefore, I brought my husband, with whom I last year made a short film, which focused on being Muslim in the West. In my work, I am interested in Islam and in spirituality, and therefore I was very keen on visiting Palestine and its religious sites.

My approach to the trip was to be open and explorative, and it was the different religious sites, like Nablus, Jericho, Haifa, Akka, Hebron, Jerusalem and Bethlehem that dictated the activities of the days.

I went to Jerusalem several times, because it is such a fascinating city. It’s difficult to describe the exact ambiance which resides in Jerusalem, where the three monotheistic religions gather around the same holy places. I spent a lot of time in the Al-Aqsa mosque, which is an essential site for Muslims, and here I spoke to several of the guests and employees about visiting a place, which to most of the world’s Muslims, is impossible to access. I was very occupied with finding a place, which had as many positive connotations for believers as possible, which however still is connected to so much conflict. I had similar experiences at the West Wall, and in the church where Jesus’s grave lies.

In Bethlehem, I met a Palestinian man, who showed us around, and we drove with him to Hebron to see Abraham’s grave. It lies separated between a Mosque and a Synagogue, where respectively Jews and Muslims visit the grave from either side. Abraham is viewed as the founder of the monotheistic religions. It was crazy to see, in such a specific way, how closely the religions are interwoven, however so far from each other at the same time.

The journey to Palestine was in many ways like travelling back in time. I got the idea, that the history and the religion had concrete impact on people’s everyday lives. In Nablus, I spoke to a Greek priest, who had been working at the Orthodox church for 30 years. In Haifa, I met people from the Bahai religion, who volunteered at the temple, people who travel from far away to practice their religions.

My visit has provided me with rich inspiration for my project, and I hope to be able to travel back, in order to resume contact with all these people that I met, and continue even more research.


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