My Home, My Prison

Sundance Film Festival, Jan. 29, 1993″-Set against the backdrop of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, My Home, My Prison centers on the courageous journalist Raymonda Tawill, a woman who devoted her life for the propagation of the Palestinian cause and co-existence with Israel. Though neglecting to provide a well-rounded perspective on the long-embattled conflict, informative docu is still a natural for public TV and other venues for documentaries.

Born in Palestine, in l940, Raymonda Tawill was taken away from her mother, an independent woman whose divorce was perceived as a “deviant” act. The only Arab girl in a boarding school in Haifa, she was exposed to Jewish students whose families were survivors of the Holocaust.

An extremely intelligent and well-read woman, Tawill showed interest in politics from an early age. One of the first Palestinians to engage Israelis in a direct dialogue after the l967 Six Day War, she was arrested several times by Israeli authorities and finally exiled to Paris.
Docu interweaves archival footage, interviews with Palestinian and Israeli politicians, dramatic reenactments of Tawill's childhood, and readings from her noted book, My Home, My Prison, which has been translated into many languages.

Despite its explicit agenda, docu' most engrossing sequences describe Tawill's status as a liberated woman in a traditional, actually misogynistic, society. In a rare humorous moment, her husband complains that she neglected her duties as a mother, and her daughters fondly remember their mother's house arrest, because it was the only time she was at home.

Midway, docu loses sight of its central figure and skirts toward polemics that are too controversial and too complex for a one-hour documentary. Moreover, docu is not even-handed: the Israeli side is not as well-represented as the Palestinian. A serious discussion of Yasser Arafat, the PLO, and Arab terrorism is conspicuously omitted from this work.

But so long as docu focuses on Tawill's charismatic personality, it provides riveting personal and political insights about a liberated woman who has performed a vital function in the peace negotiations in the Middle East. In times of political change, and a new regime in Israel, there may be more receptive audience for such a documentary than in the past.

Docu is Narrated by Martin Sheen and Gail Golden.