Hurdle, A Film by Michael Rowley
In the Shadow of a Border Wall, a New Generation of Palestinian Youth
Overcome Obstacles Through Their Love of the Sport Parkour as
Chronicled in Dallas Filmmaker Michael Rowley’s
Debut Documentary HURDLE
World Premiere at Dallas International Film Festival
Friday, April 12 at 7:30 p.m and Tuesday, April 16 at 1:00 p.m.
at Landmark's Magnolia Theatre
Official Recipient of Austin Film Society’s North Texas Pioneer Film Grant
and the American Documentary Film Festival Film Fund
Dallas, Texas – In the shadow of a wall stands a new generation of Palestinian. With defiant creativity they prove that no matter the height of the obstacle, one can always climb. From Dallas filmmaker Michael Rowley comes the World Premiere of his feature documentary directorial debut HURDLE at the Dallas International Film Festival (DIFF) on Friday, April 12 at 7:30 p.m and Tuesday, April 16 at 1:00 p.m. at Landmark's Magnolia Theatre.
As the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian territories approached its 50th year, Hurdle reveals an important and intimate story emerging from the hearts and actions of Palestinian youth. This new generation responds to a world of walls, checkpoints and arrests in an unexpected and inspiring way—through the thrilling sport of parkour—the act of moving rapidly through an urban environment while negotiating obstacles by running, jumping and climbing. 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 non-violent, creative practices.
With breathtaking visuals, amazing access and action-packed scenes, Hurdle provides an edge-of-your-seat look at an old conflict. From gunshot wounds and arrests, to brotherhood and faith, the film navigates the politics of the region through the first-hand experience of the characters, revealing a deeply personal and human investigation of the lives of the Muslim youth of Palestine in the Occupied Territories. The story provides an opportunity for a diverse audience to connect on a human level with a community that is underrepresented in the mainstream narrative. In a time when the global conversation is focused on wall-building and dehumanizing “the other,” Hurdle not only documents the evolution of an age-old conflict, but stands as a global harbinger.
Sami, a 24-year-old Palestinian living in Occupied East Jerusalem is the founder and coach of the Jerusalem Parkour team. He taught himself parkour by watching videos on YouTube. Sami’s passion is unwavering as he teaches youth ages eight to 21 to overcome fear and avoid political danger by finding strength in parkour.
Mohammad, a 26-year-old Palestinian in the Occupied West Bank, is a photojournalist and the director of the media unit of Aida Refugee Camp’s Lajee Center. A lifetime resident of the camp, Mohammad uses his skills in photography to document life under military occupation. He teaches the children of the camp to use photography as an escape from daily pressures and encourages them to tell stories about themselves, because they are human and should be viewed as such in the eyes of the world.
“With my evangelical upbringing in Amarillo, Texas, came not only principles and theology, but a way to view the world. For many evangelicals, the standard for approaching the Israeli/Palestinian conflict should be nothing less than an unquestioning and adamant support for all Israeli policy,” said Hurdle director Michael Rowley. “As I studied and deconstructed my worldview and religious affiliations, this conflict came into closer personal focus and scrutiny. I made my first journey to the region in 2015 working with an NGO that focused on sharing stories of those who have experienced loss, and I learned of young Palestinians who were addressing these physical barriers with defiance and creativity through parkour and photography. They represent the people my past community often misunderstood. By offering an intimate look at the hopes and challenges of these young men, I hope Hurdle will act as a catalyst for better conversations and understanding.”
Michael Rowley (Director, Producer, Cinematographer, Editor) is an emerging documentary filmmaker in Dallas who has worked in the commercial film industry for nearly a decade. Founding the film production company Fold Studios in 2012, Rowley has demonstrated the ability to apply his technical skill and honest approach to transform challenging subject matter into impactful narratives. The result has been partnerships with NGO’s focused on conflict resolution, Grammy-Nominated artists and human rights organizations with international impact. Hurdle is his documentary feature directorial debut. Rowley co-founded Theo Media, LLC in 2016.
Andrew Brown (Producer) is a Dallas-based marketing and business professional with a decade of experience in fundraising, international development and startups where he has overseen projects with annual budgets exceeding $5M. He is the winner of 7 Telly awards for his work as a director and producer. His most recent venture is a water drilling social enterprise based in Kenya that has provided clean water for more than 200,000 people. Brown’s educational background is in broadcasting/digital media and he holds a masters degree in business.
Remoy Philip (Producer) is a Brooklyn, New York, based editorial journalist and creative producer. His work has taken him around the globe telling stories of underserved and marginalized people groups, resulting in humanization and audience activism. Philip co-founded Theo Media, LLC in 2016.
Directed by Michael Rowley
Produced by Andrew Brown, Remoy Philip, Michael Rowley
Editor & Director of Photography: Michael Rowley
Additional Footage: Feras F. Hendawi, Mohammad Alazza
Associate Producers: Bailey Wise, Meredith Rowley
Made Possible With Support From:
Austin Film Society
American Documentary Film Festival Film Fund
USA - 2019 - 87 mins - Color - DCP