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Three Promises

(Yousef Srouji, 2023)

Columbus Premiere

a woman with short curly hair holds a camera up to her face.

Three Promises is a powerful story of a mother and her camera, of a son and his memories, and of Palestine. 

In the early 2000s, while the Israeli army is retaliating against the Second Intifada in the West Bank, young mother Suha records home movies of her family day-to-day. Her life is punctuated by frequent trips underground and overwhelmed by the anguish of her two children. At every moment of intense danger, she promises God that she will leave if they survive. Nearly two decades later, her son—director Yousef Srouji—discovers this archive and with it his stolen childhood. He and his mother reconnect with their suppressed past, wondering what drove her to record a daily life of suffering and why she delayed fleeing, paralyzed by hope for change and burdened by the impossible choice between physical safety and emotional upheaval. While on the surface there emerges a heartrending portrait of everyday life in times of war, the staggering beauty of a mother’s love is revealed between the lines. Blending the voices of the present with remarkable family footage, Srouji completes the story begun by his mother, thus averting the act of forgetting, both personal and cultural. (61 mins., DCP)

Three Promises, courtesy of the filmmaker.

"A family self-portrait in wartime that reverberates with Palestine’s long, harrowing history and present struggles for freedom."
Saelyx Finna, Redefine Magazine

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About the filmmaker

Yousef Srouji chevron-down chevron-up

Yousef Srouji is a first-time documentary filmmaker and longtime storyteller. His work centers around understanding the dynamics of occupation in Palestine and community resilience in conflict zones. He holds an MA in development practice from UC Berkeley and hopes to use his skills to aid and empower marginalized communities in the Middle East. Srouji spent the first part of his childhood in Palestine, then relocated to Qatar with his family in the midst of the Second Intifada. He attended the University of British Columbia, where he earned a BA in economics. He has been a fellow with the SFFilm Catapult Documentary program and Gotham Documentary Feature Lab (formerly IFP Documentary Lab) and received production and postproduction grants from the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC).

National Endowment for the Arts 
Ohio Humanities

Rohauer Collection Foundation

Ohio Department of Development

Greater Columbus Arts Council

The Wexner Family 
Institute of Museum and Library Services

Ohio Arts Council, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts 
Nationwide Foundation 
Ohio State’s Global Arts + Humanities Discovery Theme 
The Columbus Foundation 
Axium Packaging 
Vorys, Sater, Seymour, and Pease

Mike and Paige Crane 
Nancy Kramer 
Ohio State Energy Partners 
Ohio History Fund/Ohio History Connection 
Larry and Donna James 
David Crane and Elizabeth Dang 
Bruce and Joy Soll 
Melissa Gilliam and William Grobman 
Rebecca Perry Damsen and Ben Towle 
Jones Day 
Alex and Renée Shumate


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Three Promises