AL-NAKBA takes the most hotly contested and misunderstood moment of Israeli-Palestinian history and makes it come alive with intellectual clarity and emotional impact. Based on the book The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, by noted historian Benny Morris, AL-NAKBA is the first documentary to examine the tragedy that accompanied the birth of the state of Israel in 1948 - the displacement of 750,000 Palestinians. Dramatic location shooting is combined with riveting testimony of Arab and Israeli eyewitnesses, Palestinian poetry and new revelations about the evacuations of Haifa, Jaffa and villages surrounding Jerusalem. Through multiple voices, we learn that many Palestinians fled massively in the chaos and panic of Israel's War of Independence, that many were rounded up and forcibly expelled by the emergent Israeli army, and still others died at the hands of Israeli soldiers on the road toward Jordan (the West Bank since the 1967 war). Filmmakers Brunner and Jansse bring authority and sensitivity to a subject too long in the domain of propagandists on both sides of the divide.
Benny Brunner is an Israeli-Dutch filmmaker based in Amsterdam. Before becoming a professional film director he studied at Tel Aviv University's Film and Television Department, 1978 – 1982. Brunner is known for a number of in-depth historical and political documentaries. He directed Romania, The Taming of the Intellectuals (1990), a film about the intellectuals under Ceaucescu; A philosopher For All Seasons (1991), portraying the Israeli philosopher Yeshayahu Leibowitz; The Seventch Million – The Israelis and the Holocaust (1995); and Al Nakba: The Palestinian Catastrophe 1948 (1997).
Benny Brunner's mother, Clara, wanted him to study law. But he, being an "oiber khuchem" (Yiddish: too smart for his own good), became a filmmaker believing that "I will make mountains of money by just directing people, and I will get to travel a lot." Non of this materialized. Benny Brunner loves Californian wine, long vacations, and Saluki dogs. He is a proud Macintosh and Newton user., Alexandra Jansse was born in Amsterdam in 1956, Alexandra Jansse spent most of her school period in France and the Dutch West-Indies, where her interest for non-Western cultures was strongly awakened. She studied Social Geography at the University of Amsterdam, specializing in Third World countries. In the last fifteen years, Jansse conducted an all-round international career as: journalist; film festival coordinator; film & television researcher; and producer/director of television programs. In 1997 she co-wrote "My Colouring Book, A Wandering Installation" - a documentary film about a provocative installation which examines Holocaust related topics. The film and the installation are on display in the Museum of Modern Art in Amsterdam during May/June 1998. Later in 1997 she co-produced/directed "Al Nakba: The Palestinian Catastrophe 1948" with Benny Brunner.