Civic Media Lab

Students Explore Civil Society in Israel in Hour-Long Documentary


L'Autre Cote

In Fall semester 2019, students taking Professor Sharon Weill’s graduate-level class on “Civil Society: International and Comparative Perspectives,” traveled to Israel as part of AUP’s Cultural Program to meet with civil society groups working to promote human rights in the country. As part of the trip, a group of four graduate students developed a documentary film examining how civil society – or the capacity of individuals to self-organize beyond the state or market – helps promote human security in Israel and Palestine.

The students – Madeleine Cella, Natalie Wuertz, Bileh Dougsiyeh and Karl Baldacchino – together filmed over 50 hours of footage during the study trip using an iPhone 8 and selfie stick. Following the trip, the group took charge of scripting, storyboarding, framing and editing the project, condensing their research into an hour-long documentary. The result of their efforts – titled L’Autre Côté, meaning “the other side” in French – includes interviews with relevant civil society actors working across the region.

Professor Weill’s course takes an in-depth, critical view of the various definitions of “civil society” and the similarities and differences in the use of the term throughout history and within different national contexts. It aims to give students an understanding of the key concepts, actors and institutions involved in global governance, while examining the role of civil society in case studies relating to issues such as development, migration, transitional justice and the environment. Students conduct a critical analysis of how civil society responds to these global challenges, while engaging with relevant actors through interviews, meetings and talks.

The study trip, titled “Law, Social Justice and Civil Society: What Hope for a Common Future?” was led by Weill and Professor Susan Perry. It aimed to introduce students to how justice and civil society operate in Israel, looking at the influence of social justice groups in the region and the ways in which Israelis and Palestinians construct common spaces.

The full L’Autre Côté documentary is available to watch below.