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Student takes class project to the next level

Film Before Sunrise delves into the life of the Brandeisian Palesinian student

Published: May 2, 2008
Section: Arts, Etc.



The Heller School for Social Policy and Management hosted the second screening of Before Sunrise, a short film by Mohammad Kundos ’10 who also composed the music for the film. The first screening was held during the Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Creative Arts.

The film, which initially started as a class project for Kundos, developed into an independent study, evolving into the film screened this past Thursday. The documentary sought to present the Palestinian experience at Brandeis University.

Many undergraduates participated in the film, relaying their various experiences and opinions on being inevitable Palestinian ambassadors within the Brandeis community. Themes expressed by individuals ranged from social acceptance to discovering and embracing identity.

Walaa Sbait ’08 spoke of the ancestral land his family was displaced from as a result of the 1948 Palestinian exodus. One of his goals for the future, after graduating from Brandeis this May, will be to return there and “rebuild [his] village.” The film featured a small skit created by Sbait as well as a powerful spoken word piece in which Sbait embraced the “terrorist” label, using words and actions as his weapons of choice.

Lisa Hanania ’11 described the difference in the interactions between Brandeis Palestinians and the Brandeis Jewish community as opposed to Palestinian-Israeli interactions back home. Hanania acknowledges the presence of a more religious community here rather than at home saying that, in her experience, Palestinians and Israelis do socialize.

Speaking on the general reactions many have had, Iyad Abdeen ’09 explained how people tended to have a more pleasant demeanor toward him while believing him to be Jewish. Upon realizing him to be Palestinian, Abdeen states how this demeanor quickly becomes less friendly. Abdeen hopes to use his Brandeis education to better the economy back home.

Mamoon Darwish, a current student in the Transitional Year Program, shared an anecdote from being in a course taught by esteemed Brandeis professor, Gordon Fellman. Upon his professor’s encouragement, Darwish shared his life experiences as a Palestinian to his fellow classmates. The presentation resulted in shock as well as changed views amongst pro-Israeli students.

Darwish went on to explain how he wants to expose the “human side of a Palestinian.” Aptly speaking of his own time at Brandeis, he wants to show “the Palestinian that drives the BranVan…enjoys weightlifting,” and generally enjoys “good times.”

Much of the film focused on adversities faced by being a Palestinian, generally and within the Brandeis community. However, they were able to find a home away from home, in a sense, amongst the Palestinians on campus and the greater Boston area.

When asked why he himself did not take part in the documentary he created, Kundos simply replied saying that his response is expressed by the movie and musical composition themselves. Kundos hopes that this film creates more dialogue, helping to pave the road to coexistence.