PALESTINE DOCUMENTARY ONLINE
By NATHAN DRISKELL
Abilene filmmakers Nathan Driskell and Timothy Palmer this week released their
debut documentary Where Is Palestine? online for free, at whereispalestine.film.
While the filmmakers had originally intended to submit the film to festivals this
year, they said the coronavirus outbreak had changed things.
“We decided the right thing to do was to release this film as widely as we could, as
quickly as we could,” Palmer said. “People around the world are suffering, including
many of our Palestinian friends. And many people around the world have time right
now to watch new films like ours. The timing felt right for us to put this out into the
The film’s wide release had been delayed for several months pending the
finalization of several legal contracts. But even by the time those hurdles had been
cleared, the coronavirus pandemic had already begun to upend the film industry
worldwide. Driskell and Palmer had planned to withhold the release of Where Is
Palestine? until after submission to festivals, but the global outbreak convinced
them to release it online instead, on their own terms.
“It was never about festivals or awards for either of us,” Driskell said. “In the end,
we just want as many people as possible to see it.”
Where Is Palestine? took shape when Palmer and Driskell traveled to Israel, the
West Bank and Jordan in 2017, to tell stories of individual Palestinians. The stories
were originally intended to be small, five-minute documentaries about individuals,
but as the trip went on, Driskell said he and Palmer both understood that what they
were capturing instead were many parts of a single, larger story. And so the friends
decided to pivot, and to tell the story that was unfolding in front of them.
The pair debuted a version of the film in downtown Abilene in 2018, at the historic
Paramount Theatre, and last fall they debuted an extended version of the film on
the PBS affiliates KTTZ (Lubbock) and KCOS (El Paso). It’s this longer version that is
now available online for free. While the film is free to watch, the filmmakers have employed a pay-what-you-can model on the site, asking viewers to give whatever amount they’re able. Half of the money donated will go to Covid–19 relief efforts in the West Bank and Gaza, while the rest will help fund future storytelling efforts.
“We want this project to be a catalyst that broadens people’s experiences, and at
the same time gives life to new projects and opportunities, both for ourselves and
for those whose stories we’re telling.” Palmer said.
“I really think the film strikes at the heart of the moment we’re in,” Driskell said. “At
a time when a massive global crisis is holding a magnifying glass up to inequity, it’s
important to affirm the dignity of every person. For us, that’s what Where Is
Palestine? has been about from the very beginning. It’s a story about Palestinians,
but like every good story, it’s also a story about all of us.”
Timothy Palmer is a songwriter, speaker, and theatre teacher who spent the earliest
years of his life in the West Bank and on the island of Cyprus. The son of
missionaries, Palmer says those early experiences motivated him to spend his
creative energy calling attention to the symptoms and consequences of injustice,
and working to mitigate them.
Nathan Driskell was born in West Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall and
grew up in Austin, Texas. His unique upbringing straddled the divide between
radically different worlds and taught him the importance of listening to and
translating the stories of others. In 2013, he directed We Are Makers, the world’s first documentary on the Maker Movement, for the AT&T Learning Studio at Abilene
Christian University, where he currently works full-time as a designer and