Rachel (2009)

Genres - Culture & Society  |   Sub-Genres - Biography, Politics & Government, Social Issues  |   Release Date - Oct 8, 2010 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 101 min.  |   Countries - Belgium, France, USA  |  
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Rachel Corrie was an American college student from Washington state who traveled to Gaza in January of 2003 as a member of the International Solidarity Movement. On March 18, 2003, while she was trying to keep Palestinian homes in Rafah (on the border between Gaza and Egypt) from being destroyed, Corrie was killed by an armored bulldozer operated by the Israel Defense Forces. The exact circumstances of her death have been disputed. Fellow ISM members who witnessed the incident claim that the bulldozer driver deliberately ran over Corrie. The IDF's investigation found that the driver was unable to see Corrie, and that she was not run over by the bulldozer, but was killed by debris that was pushed onto her. French-Israeli filmmaker Simone Bitton examines the case in her controversial feature documentary Rachel. Corrie's letters and emails describing her experiences working with the Palestinians in Gaza are read aloud in the film by her friends and relatives. Bitton interviews Palestinians, ISM members, and Israeli military personnel who were involved in the incident and its aftermath. Rachel had its North American Premiere at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival, where it was shown in the Showcase section. While its Tribeca screenings passed fairly quietly, the film aroused tremendous controversy when it was later shown at the 2009 San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. Sponsors of the festival threatened to withdraw their support, and the SFJFF was further criticized (by the Israel Consul General, among others) for inviting Cindi Corrie, Rachel's mother, to speak after the film. The president of the festival's board resigned, apparently in response to the controversy, and the festival invited a pro-Israel speaker, Dr. Michael Harris of San Francisco Voice for Israel, to address the audience before screenings.

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Keywords

activism, college-student, death, Gaza-Strip, martyrdom, Palestine, protest, solidarity