Film by Paul Smaczny (Germany 2012) German Version
Knowledge is the Beginning is the story of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, founded in 1999 by Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said, an orchestra in which young Arabs and Jews make music together. The film shows clearly and touchingly what music can and cannot do. It can transcend cultural barriers and bring people together from different backgrounds, religions and political perspectives. It cannot, however, solve the problems in the Middle East and particularly the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
But their common task brings the young people together, they experience each other away from prejudices and stereotypes. And therein lies the real policy of the orchestra. “Harmony within personal or international relations can only occur through listening,” says Daniel Barenboim. “Everyone opens his ears to the views and experiences of the others.”
Knowledge and awareness of the other is where it all starts. “It is not the musical perfection or the visionary artistry of the performers that make this documentary [...] so worthwhile. It shows above all that music and music-making can be an effortless ‛lingua franca’, linking cultures and generations without betraying or sentimentalising the romantic idea of a peaceful and better world,” according to the jury who included the film in the Quarterly Critics’ Choice of the German Record Critics’ Award at the beginning of 2013.