AL HELM is a great piece of documentary filmmaking which brings together themes of cultural differences and understanding, human rights and injustice, and the power of nonviolent action in ways which the audience can better understand the reality of life in Palestine through the experiences of ordinary, yet remarkable, individuals. It is the first film to explore parallels between the civil rights struggles in the U.S. and the liberation struggles in the occupied Territories. I highly recommend it for Middle Eastern Studies, Peace Studies, African American studies and related fields.

Stephen Zunes, Professor of Politics, University of San Francisco

At a time when documentary films on Palestine and the occupation are gaining surprising new prominence, AL HELM is utterly unique. It shows artists meeting across worlds; it refracts the fierce and appalling political situation through the lenses of theater; it weaves together threads of suffering and courage, political activism and artistic creation; it creates revelatory conversations between African Americans and Palestinians. AL HELM shows the power of art and is, in itself, a work of art.

Dr. Linda Hess, Religious Studies, Stanford University

A superb film that is powerful, informative, and poetic. Particularly effective for courses such as my class on the Cultures of the Middle East as well as courses dealing with the legacy of King, the organization of nonviolent protest movements, and even cross-cultural communication or the transformative power of theater.

Noor-Aiman Khan, PhD, Associate Professor of History, Director, Program in Middle East and Islamic Studies, Colgate University


From Connie Field, the director of classics like The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter and Freedom on my Mind, comes the new documentary film Al Helm (The Dream).

The glorious strains of gospel music wash over the West Bank in Field's potent film. As the Palestinian National Theater and an African-American choir mount a touring play about Martin Luther King Jr., written by Stanford Professor and King scholar Clayborne Carson, an impassioned cultural exchange ensues, new friendships are forged and attitudes are altered. A rousing portrait of the changes unfolding in the Middle East as a nonviolent movement grows in Palestine, this dynamic and complex work is born of a brilliantly simple and potent idea: what would happen if African-American Christians--the same group who served as exemplars of the Civil Rights Movement--could witness first-hand the plight of Palestinians today?

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Fadi Quran and Clayborne Carson

Music from the Choir

Listen to music from the choir online, via SoundCloud.

Play the Music

Reflections from Ré Phillips

My first journey to the Holy Land was not your average journey to Mecca, but instead a drama come to life, a (re)living of the African American freedom struggle on Palestinian stages, and a toiling with methodologies for peace, justice, and nonviolence in the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Read more

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