Oct 6-13, 2020


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Hurdle reveals a riveting story emerging from Palestinian youth living under Israeli military occupation. The new generation responds to a world of walls, checkpoints and arrests in an unexpected and inspiring way. Hurdle’s protagonists, Sami and Mohammad, begin teaching the creative practices of parkour and photography, respectively, to the youth of their communities as a means to overcome the personal and political obstacles that often feel inescapable. Though these young men are separated by a wall, they are united in leading the next generation toward freedom and self-determination through creative practices.

Parkour is the sport of moving rapidly through an urban environment while negotiating obstacles by running, jumping, and climbing. Sami is a 23-year-old Palestinian and the coach of the Jerusalem Parkour Team. He is a rock to his peers, takes his role as a mentor seriously, and remains steadfastly devoted to his sport and community. Sami is seen teaching his followers at the base of the Israeli Separation Wall, on the rooftops of Jerusalem and in a small practice gym tucked away in the Old City. The youth, feeling immense pressure from the effects of living under military occupation, explode with a dynamic show of acrobatics - taking back their personal freedom of movement.

Living on the other side of the wall in the Palestinian West Bank is Mohammad. A lifetime resident of Aida refugee camp, he too turns to creativity in order to escape the walls surrounding him as he passes down his creative practice to the youth of the refugee camp. By developing their skills in photography and storytelling, they are able to document daily life in the camp and broadcast their stories beyond the walls that keep them static. With shocking visuals of military incursions into the camp, the cameras in the hands of youth become tools of response to the violence and loss of innocence they must face.

With breathtaking visuals, intimate access and action-packed scenes, award-winning Hurdle (from first-time filmmaker Michael Rowley) provides audiences and critics alike with a fresh look at an old conflict. The next generation must decide what to do with the wars and walls they inherit and, ultimately, find ways to practice their freedom.

Filmmaker Biographies

Michael Rowley (Director, Producer, Cinematographer, Editor) is a documentary and commercial filmmaker who aims to document underrepresented stories in an effort to bring awareness, equity and justice to an interconnected and global society. Rowley’s debut documentary feature, Hurdle, is the recipient of four Jury Awards, is distributed by New Day Films and has been featured in publications such as the New York Times. He is a two-time recipient of Austin Film Society’s North Texas Pioneer Film Grant and a winner of the American Documentary Film Festival Pitch Competition. Rowley lives in Dallas, Texas with his wife Meredith and son Salem.


Online Screenings

This online screening and Q&A with the filmmaker will be available for a limited time only. The film and Q&A will be accessible at the following dates and times. Viewers may start the film up to one hour after the time listed.

In-person Screenings

To reserve tickets, please connect with the Screening Partner closest to you.