By Lori Bosworth
Writer/Director Daniel Ferguson has offered us a tremendous insight into the sacred City of Jerusalem in his documentary by the same name, which opens at the Ontario Science Centre’s OMNIMAX Theatre on Friday, March 7, 2014. Torontonicity attended a media preview of the film, which takes us into the city’s mosques, churches and temples and, as a result of Ferguson being granted special permission to fly in the no-fly zone, captures stunning aerials of the Old City.
Ferguson is more than aware that many people are reluctant to visit the politically-tense city, thus one of his reason’s for making the documentary was to make viewers feel as if they had been to Jerusalem after watching the film.
Jerusalem, which is narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch, is told through the perspectives of Farah Ammouri, a Muslim; Nadia Todros, a Catholic; and Revital Zacharie, a Jew. (Although there are four quarters in the Old City that are distinctly Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Armenian, Jerusalem does not explore the Armenian quarter as a result of logistical issues noted by Ferguson.) The film follows the three young women as they shop in the Old City’s marketplace, visit historical sites and enjoy Ramadan, Easter and Passover with their families while sharing their observations of living in the war-torn city. The film also features Dr. Jodi Magness, who explores some of Jerusalem’s notable archaeological sites.
Jerusalem was highly sought after due to its source of fresh spring water and the perception that the city was the cradle of civilization due to being located at the crossroads of Europe, Africa and Asia. There is remarkable footage of the Church of the Holy Sepulchral where Jesus is said to have been buried, as well as the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, which was built 1300 years ago. It’s one of the oldest Islamic monuments in the world and considered the gateway to God. The prophet Mohammed was said to have been taken to the rock where he ascended to Heaven. Ferguson also takes us to the Western Wall where thousands of worshippers gather to pray and leave prayer notes in the wall.
To our delight, all three women appeared at the media conference following the screening of Jerusalem. When asked what they would change about their city, Zacharie suggested that the transportation problem needs to be improved and felt more “communication [was needed] between the communities.” Zacharie did add that she had met many Arabs in Jerusalem and hoped to have the chance to speak to more of them. Todros stated, “The walls have to be removed some day.” Ammouri replied, “You can’t change people, but you can create tolerance. This will take so much time. One day, we will achieve change.”
If you are visiting Jerusalem, you may want to check out the following places recommended by Ammouri, Todros and Zacharie:
1) The Austrian hospice offers an amazing view, plus they serve delicious schnitzels.
2) Shuk Mahane Yehuda or “The Shuk”, the Central Market in Jerusalem, offers diverse crowds, street festivals and artists selling their work.
3) Just enter Jerusalem from one of the seven gates of the city and go from there.