The world premiere of Hurdle will take place at the Dallas International Film Festival.
Dallas filmmaker, Michael Rowley, will debut his first feature documentary at the Dallas International Film Festival. Photo by Michael Clouser
Mohammed is one of the Palestinian men that Hurdle follows.
Sami uses parkour to face obstacles in Palestine.
First-time documentary feature filmmaker, Michael Rowley, spent six months in the Middle East in 2017. There, he filmed the stories of two Palestinian men, living in occupied territories. Hurdle will have its world premiere at the Dallas International Film Festival, with screenings at The Magnolia this Friday, April 12 and again on Tuesday, April 16.
Rowley grew up in Amarillo, Texas, traveled and lived in various cities in the United States, then settled in Dallas where he founded his production company, Fold Studios.
“I grew up in an evangelical home,” says Rowley. He explains that in his hometown, there was the stereotype of Palestinians being the bad guys and that Israel should be supported. “We only knew what we saw in the media.”
A trend in coverage would usually be Palestinians throwing stones. “In the media narrative, you don’t usually get to see the human side of the story,” says Rowley. “My goal was to dive deeper and show the human side of the experience.”
Rowley found Sami, one of the two men focused on in Hurdle, by watching a YouTube video of him doing parkour in Jerusalem. The parkour group uses the sport as a way to feel free and creative, while they are surrounded by walls.
On the other side of the wall, a Palestinian named Mohammed utilizes photography, video and storytelling to do the same. Mohammed teaches kids these skills so that the younger generation may one day be able to document what’s going in Palestine, as well.
“There’s a movement amongst the next generation of Palestinians,” says Rowley. “I wanted to profile two leaders seeking freedom with modern tools.”
As you can see in the film, Palestine isn’t the safest place to make a movie. “It was definitely an experience,” Rowley says. “We were constantly under stress for our safety.” He says that relative to the environment, it was a pretty smooth filming process. Although, there was one instance where Rowley was picked up by Israeli soldiers and questioned.
“It was just really important for me to tell their experience,” he says. “At the end of watching the film, you’re going to know two Palestinians.”
Rowley wants viewers to remember the names Sami and Mohammed, so that the next time you hear something in the news, you’ll think of the people and realize that we’re all more alike than different.
Get more information and tickets for Hurdle at dallasiff.org.