documentary Visions of Peace opens at a Peace Cafe held at |
American Bistro, where hanging cloths and colorful artwork warm up the industrial-style
space. One hundred and fifty men and women---Arab, Israeli, and American---sit
at round tables and pass baskets of pita, left whole to underscore the symbolism
of breaking bread together. The Peace Cafe participants have just seen a locally
produced live performance of David Hare's one man play Via Dolorossa, about the
playwright's 1999 trip to Israel.
The documentary focuses on The Peace
Cafe's attempt to see and to move forward. A collaboration between Andy Shallal,
an Iraqi restaurateur, and Ari Roth, a Jewish-American theatre director, the cafes
have been held in Washington, D.C., restaurants and the Jewish Community Center
(JCC) over the last two years.
The Peace Cafes were born of the frustration
Roth and Shallal each felt watching the news from the Middle East. Shallal wanted
to take positive action by bringing Arabs and Jews together to communicate about
the most difficult topic before them. At the same time, Roth was bringing David
Hare's play to the JCC's Theater J. Because of the strong feelings he knew the
play would elicit, Roth wanted to have a discussion session after the performance.
Roth and Shallal's collaboration began and expanded.