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Jennifer Fuller of WSIU Radio talks with Israeli filmmaker and SIUC alumna Hilla Medalia whose student film project at Southern Illinois University eventually became the award-winning documentary To Die in Jerusalem.
As a graduate student in Radio-Television, Medalia was deeply affected by a suicide bombing that killed two teenage girls in Jerusalem. One was a Palestinian who strapped on the explosive filled vest and the other was an Israeli who happened to be going to the supermarket where the bomb was detonated. After earning the trust of families on both sides of the incident, Medalia explored the lives of the girls who grew up only miles apart and yet had vastly different outlooks on what the future held in store for them.
She describes her reasons for making the film and the difficulties she encountered traveling back and forth between Israeli-controlled Jerusalem and the neighboring Palestinian refugee camps. The separation between the two societies is so stark, Medalia says, that the film's climactic moment – the first encounter between the girls' mothers – had to be arranged through an electronic hook-up. To Die in Jerusalem recently debuted on HBO.