Festival internazionale Segni della Notte - Urbino
International Festival Signs of the Night - Urbino

18° Festival internazionale Segni della Notte - Urbino (4° Editione) - March 24th - 28th, 2021





March 28th - 30th, 2021


Broken - A Palestinian Journey Through International Law

Mohammed Alatar
Switzerland / 2018 / 0:52:00

"Broken – A Palestinian Journey Through International Law", is a compelling documentary about international law and its broken promises at the example of the 700 km-long wall between Israel and Palestine. Candid testimonies are provided by internationally renowned law experts, judges from the International Court of Justice (ICJ), seasoned diplomats, and the Israeli military officer who, in 2002, commanded the construction of the Wall. In its 2004 Advisory Opinion, the ICJ declared the Wall illegal. Now, 14 years later, the Wall is nearing completion. "Broken" was inspired and produced by a former UN expert monitoring the humanitarian impacts of the Wall.











From my house in the occupied Palestinian city of Ramallah I can see how the Wall encircles the city, blocking our horizon and imposing itself on the way we live, move and exist

. My first major film, “The Iron Wall”, was about this very subject. It was released a few months after the 2004 International Court of Justice’s Advisory Opinion. Then, I had hoped soon to see the end of the story of the Wall and its dismantlement. How naïve I was; the Wall is still there, titanic.

So when Stefan Ziegler, former head of the UN’s Barrier Monitoring Unit, suggested making a documentary about the ICJ opinion, my immediate answer was “yes”. The idea of “Broken” was born.

Our combined experience and the existence of enormous amounts of film archives from that time, allow us to reconstruct more than a decade of the Wall piece-by-piece, zooming in on the trail the Wall has left on the ground and in the International Community.

Many questions haunt me. What was the cause behind the international community’s failure to uphold the legal obligations, including “to respect and to ensure respect” of international humanitarian law? How can two UN resolutions and an ICJ Advisory Opinion be so easily disregarded, without action? Who is to be held responsible for such a failure? What does the failure to implement these high-level decisions mean for international (humanitarian) law and its relevance today? And where can the people whose lives were ruined by the Wall seek justice, and by which means? “Broken” is my attempt to address these questions.

“Broken” takes a direct and factual approach to the story, coming in from different angles and capturing the reality of the Wall. The story is supported by a very distinguished group of characters: judges, diplomats, experts, United Nations officials as well as Israeli and Palestinian voices. When the last image of “Broken” fades from the screen, some of these questions will be answered, others will be raised, and a whole tangled web of law, politics and power is exposed.


Currently one of the major documentary directors of Palestinian cinematography, Mohammed Alatar was trained as a filmmaker at the end of the 90’s in the USA.

His past working experiences include positions as Future Stories Director for CBS News, Media Advisor to UNDP and the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs. In 2002, he founded and directed « Palestinian for Peace and Democracy».

With a profound commitment to human rights and his people’s struggle, Mohammed Alatar defines himself more as a human rights activist than as a filmmaker. He uses his work to promote his ideas and convictions around the world, giving scope to the causes and values that he defends. His mentors are Oliver Stone and the Egyptian director Yousef Chahin, who are « people who make movies with a message, not just entertainment ».

In 2006, Mohammed Alatar released « The Iron Wall », a film about the establishment of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which also covers the controversial construction of the Israeli Wall in the West Bank. The film argues that settlements are the visible aspect of a strategy for permanent occupation of the territory. «The Iron Wall» follows the timeline of the settlements and examines their effect on the peace process.

Referring to the Wall and the film, former US President Jimmy Carter said: “The best description of the barrier, it’s routing and impact is shown in the film The Iron Wall.”

In 2008, Mohammed Alatar released “Jerusalem the East Side”, one of the most- viewed political documentaries in Palestine. It presents the effects and injustices of the 42-year Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem”.

His current documentary project, « Broken » attempts to explain why nothing has been done to stop Israel from continuing to build the Wall, and why after the ICJ declared it illegal in 2004 it has not been dismantled.