Background: The name of the organization was inspired by a documentary film by this name.
The film follows three people from three nations, who initiate a swimming event to promote the Dead Sea issue. One of the partners, Oded Rahav, is the founder of the organization.
Three men – Oded, an Israeli business strategy expert, Munqeth, a Jordanian environmentalist, and Yusuf, a Palestinian lifeguard – are brought together by their equal passions of swimming and the desire to save the Dead Sea. They decide to focus on creating a high-profile event to capture people’s attention to the environmental catastrophe happening in their backyard.
The idea- to gather a group of international swimmers to do something that has never been done before: a swim across the Dead Sea, from Jordan to Israel. The film follows this extraordinary action, hoping to achieve exposure that will drive the neighboring countries to take act. However, the friendship between the trio is tricky. There are significant cultural differences between them; political, cultural,
This conflict is portrayed visually throughout the film: the tensions between the wonderful landscape whose beauty is unaffected; the destruction of the environment; and the suffocating politics. The only chance for saving this Sea lies in connecting people, bridging between their divisions for the greater good. Oded, Yusuf and Munqeth are willing to take the risks, because they understand their steps of trust are the only way to create change.
Oded is an entrepreneur in climate-related initiatives. In his background he is a landscape designer and for years has led ventures in the Agro-technologies realm. He is married to Shira and is the father of three boys. Alongside making a living, he is busy with countless initiatives to save the planet; he always has ideas, and he never runs out of energy. He is charismatic and convincing. At the age of 34 he started swimming and formed an open-water swimming group. He has since led the group, using his charisma and determination, recruiting the group for global swimming events for the sake of the environment. Together with his team, he broke the world record in open-water swimming as they swam from Cyprus to Israel. When he arrived at the Dead Sea and saw its condition, he decided that he had to organize a swim here as well, despite (and perhaps because of) the physical dangers and the political situation. What started as one of the countless swims he organized, turned into his life’s mission to save the Sea.
Munqeth is a man of many hats. In our film, he is featured as the Director of the EcoPeace organization, the only environmental organization comprised of Palestinians, Jordanians, and Israelis. He is married to a Palestinian who is unwilling to visit Israel and is father of three children. Munqeth is a warm, smiling, always calm and confident person. The calm facade, however, hides the constant tension in which he lives: the society in which he lives does not see cooperation with Israel with a kind eye. He faces threats to his life and in the past, even survived an assassination attempt. He received his name Munqeth, which means a rescuer or saviour, from his parents after one of the wars with the Israelis. They hoped he would grow up to be the saviour of the Jordanian people from the Israelis.
Yusuf has spent over 30 years as a lifeguard at the Dead Sea. He is a Palestinian who has worked with Israelis all his adult life, exposed to Israeli culture and to tourists who come to the Dead Sea from all over the world. In the evening he returns to his village, which is in the Palestinian Authority. Yusuf is a religious Muslim, married, the father of four and a grandfather. He has a personal charm, which gives him the confidence to be himself and to easily manoeuvre between the Palestinian world and the Israeli world. The drying up of the Dead Sea forced him to abandon the lifestyle he had become accustomed to – the beach he worked on closed. He returned to his village to harvest olives. But Yusuf can’t really break away. He is connected to this Sea with his body and soul and is ready to do anything, even if it means risking and cooperating with Israelis. For Yusuf, the Sea is that special place on earth, and working to save it goes far beyond the hostility between nations.
Ido Glass is a graduate of the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School in Jerusalem (1994). He has been creating, editing, writing scripts, and working as a freelance director. He specializes in documentaries dealing with social, human, and historical issues surrounding Israeli society. The films he produced were exhibited in festivals and television networks in Israel and around the world.
Filmography: Open Ward – 57 min documentary | Shifting Sands – 57 min documentary | Elkana Code – 52 min documentary | Warrior of Love – 70 min documentary |
Yoav Kleinman was born in Israel in 1971. He lives in a kibbutz with his wife and 3 children. In 1995, he graduated cinema studies in Sapir college.
Yoav works as an independent director and photographer specializing in documentaries. Both as a director and as a photographer, most of his projects focus on social issues, and most of his heroes represent marginalized members of society.
Filmography: Open-ward, 57 min documentary | Naf, 2006, 57/90 min documentary | Blood Revenge 2000, 57min documentary, National Geographic channel | Warrior of Love – 70 min documentary |
EcoPeace Middle East is a project-oriented NGO and a unique organization that brings together Jordanian, Palestinian, and Israeli environmentalists. Their primary objective is the promotion of cooperative efforts to protect our shared environmental heritage. In so doing, they seek to advance both sustainable regional development and the creation of necessary conditions for lasting peace in our region. EcoPeace has offices in Amman, Ramallah, and Tel-Aviv.
“Dead Sea Guardians” was one of four projects from around the world selected by the Sundance Institute as part of their “Stories of Change” program – a prestigious program that connects entrepreneurs and filmmakers. As part of the program, we receive close support from the best of documentary filmmakers. We have access to archive materials that have been documenting the Sea over the past hundred years.
Involved broadcaster: BBC Arabic