Winner 2007

To Die in Jerusalem

HBO Documentary Films in association with Priddy Brothers

Few if any events are more terrible for a parent than the loss of a child. To Die in Jerusalem explores the anguish of two mothers whose daughters die in the same violent moment. Ayat al-Akhras ended her life as a suicide bomber in a Jerusalem supermarket. Rachel Levy and a security guard died in the blast. Rachel Levy was 17 years old, Ayat al-Akhras 18. Their homes were a few miles—and several cultures—apart. Two girls, two outlooks, two political entities, two families, two stories and the two mothers who tell them—these are the elements of this most heartbreaking of documentaries. Avigail Levy determines to meet Um Samir al-Akras. But all the barriers of politics, society and culture, all the doubts and fears of the two women, block the meeting for four years. Finally, using video and telephones, they see one another and converse. It is not, in the end, a happy event. Each woman’s pain is revealed in words, in charges and counter-charges, in questions, even in gesture and movement. That pain emerges as a microcosm of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but remains as massive as any mother’s grief. For exploring a major political issue in the most personal and deeply felt manner, a Peabody Award goes to To Die in Jerusalem.


Executive producers: Sheila Nevins, John Priddy, Ed Priddy. Supervising Producer: Sara Bernstein. Producers: Hilla Medalia, John Priddy, Ed Priddy, Keren Rattenbach. Director/Writer: Hilla Medalia.