Looking Behind the Wall: ‘Christians of Palestine’

Photo Courtesy of Mary Davis

Zayna Haliburton
Staff Writer

Senior journalism and media production major Mary Davis is currently working on her first documentary, “Christians of Palestine: Life Behind the Wall.”

Davis said her passion for photography inspired her to make a documentary.

She said many people have told her she has a talent for showing emotion through her pictures. She took this praise and contemplated how else she could convey it.

“I thought, ‘Well I can do this in imagery,’” Davis said. “I wonder if I can convey that same emotion the way I do in my photography in my video production. I thought that would be interesting to take on.”

Davis chose to do a documentary over this subject because she is a Christian Palestinian.

She said she did not learn many details about her culture as she was growing up.

“I became interested in the [culture] when I started my college education and when I got in contact with some of my mother’s family,” Davis said.

She learned her great grandfather was a former mayor of Bethlehem, which made her more interested in the subject.

In her research, Davis said she noticed a media tendency to have a pro-Israel bias.

She said she hopes this documentary will show the many facets of the nation of Palestine.

“There are Palestinian Christians who are suffering there,” Davis said, “people like you and me who share the same values as we do, as many Americans do who follow the religion of Christianity.”

According to Davis, many people tend to think the problem between Palestine and Israel involves religious conflict. However, she said she hopes her documentary shows the more political side of the turmoil.

“It’s about settlements,” Davis said. “It’s about Israel taking as much land as they can possibly take because there are many illegal settlements right now on Palestinian territory.”

Davis said the hardest part about putting together this documentary is focusing on what she determined were the key points.

Looking back, she wished she would have obtained more footage and interviews to emphasize these important topics.

“Watching over the footage and the interviews, I found that there was a connection between the different interviews and the key points that everybody kind of pointed out,” Davis said. “Now I kind of know the direction that I’m going with this film.”

Professor of Communication Dr. Matt Jenkins has been working alongside Davis, assisting her with any concerns in the editing process and lending advice when necessary.

He said he will offer suggestions on how to tell the story clearer and make a bigger impact on viewers.

However, he emphasized this documentary process is not about him.

“One thing I try to avoid doing is telling the student to do it the way I want it done,” Jenkins said. “It is their documentary.”

He added that Davis is doing well so far, and he has not had to give her a lot of advice.

Davis said she hopes to have her documentary completed by the end of the semester.

She also mentioned she learned many things in this experience and would like to continue making documentaries in the future.

“I really enjoy meeting with people,” she said. “I feel like with documentary filming you’re actually learning [about] yourself.”

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