Rawabi The Story of a City

: Documentary Feature
GENRE: Documentary
STATUS: Production


A city is rising in the West Bank from the ground up.


In the hills of the West Bank, a modern city is rising from the ground. Rawabi, meaning “green hills” in Arabic, is the first Palestinian planned city and the most ambitious private investment project ever contemplated in the West Bank.

In a region where cities bear the physical scars of entrenched conflict, Rawabi’s developers promise future residents a new kind of existence – one where they can live in pristine apartment complexes, shop at upmarket commercial centers, and relax in green public spaces. The offer is attractive, and 650 families are set to move into the first neighborhood of the new city in Summer 2014.

Many see Rawabi as hopeful symbol, pointing towards better days for Palestinians living in the West Bank. But a large number of Palestinians oppose the Rawabi project, and the city’s construction has sparked an intense internal debate about what a ‘better future for Palestine’ means.

After three years of construction, the new city will welcome its first residents in Summer 2014. Rawabi: The Story of a City will follow three characters with different relationships to Rawabi for the five months leading up to the move. Through these characters, the film will chronicle Rawabi’s transition to a habitable city and portray competing perspectives on the implications of this development. In doing so, it will demonstrate competing visions of ‘a better future in Palestine.’


The narrative arc of the film will be a chronological progression of the characters’ lives over five months. Each character will struggle over the months with various obstacles that stand in the way of achieving their respective visions of a better life in Palestine. While the film will highlight the differences between the three characters through their juxtaposition, it will link them by creating parallels between their life events. More broadly, the film will highlight the human aspirations shared by all of our characters – providing a better life for their children, making a house a home, and yearning for a freedom that has been denied for decades. In this way, the characters will be tied to each other through the ways in which they experience similar events in different ways. The frustrations, disappointments, and moments of intense pride that accompany their competing visions will come to life through the their quests to achieve their respective goals.

Throughout the five months, Rawabi itself will near fruition and begin to look more complete. Rawabi’s visual progression will be used to mark the beginning, middle and end of the time period in which we film our characters. Additionally, archival footage from news reports about both Rawabi and the political developments in the West Bank during 2014 will be used to contextualize the months in which filming occurs.


Kate Stonehill, @kate_stonehill - Director

Kate first visited Rawabi in 2012 while presenting a paper at a conference in Jerusalem on the role of film in conflict resolution. She holds a BSc in International Politics from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and an MSc in Gender from the London School of Economics. She has directed two plays at Georgetown and LSE (Metamorphoses and The Vagina Monologues) and a short film (La Toma de la Facultad), which she made while studying Politics and documentary filmmaking in Argentina. She is currently working part-time at Soul Rebel Films, a production company that focuses on social-issue documentaries, while developing plans to begin shooting The Story of a City, which will be her first feature-length film.

Anna Van Hollen, @annavanhollen - Producer

Anna’s coverage of Rawabi for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting was recognized with a national first place “Mark of Excellence Award” by the Society of Professional Journalists in Spring 2013. She has previously reported from the West Bank for the Center and the The Atlantic Online on issues ranging from environmental activism to New Years celebrations. Anna holds a Masters in International Relations from the London School of Economics and a BA in History from Davidson College. She has traveled and studied extensively in the Middle East, including time in the West Bank, Israel, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.

Lauren Cioffi - Cinematographer

Lauren Cioffi is a rising documentary cinematographer whose focus has been capturing unique human perspectives and visual details that bring out the story. Her most recent feature documentary, subSIPPI, is a visually intimate portrayal of the subcultures of the state of Mississippi that have been forced underground and are now trying to surface. Cioffi has worked on documentary and narrative film productions for four years, traveling and living in such places as Haiti, New York City, Normandy, Los Angeles, Mississippi and the West Bank. She studied Film and Media Aesthetics at Georgetown University. In addition to her cinematography, she has spent the last season as a documentary screener at Sundance Institute helping to curate documentaries for the Documentary Film Program and for the Sundance Film Festival.

Jennifer Fox - Executive Producer

Jennifer Fox is an internationally acclaimed director, producer, camerawoman and educator. She directed: BEIRUT: THE LAST HOME MOVIE (Grand Prize Winner & Best Cinematography, Sundance Film Festival 1988; Frontline WGBH), the ten-hour AN AMERICAN LOVE STORY (Sundance Film Festival 1999, Gracie Award 1999, Primetime PBS), the six-part, FLYING CONFESSIONS OF A FREE WOMAN (Sundance Film Festival 2008; Sundance Channel), and the feature MY REINCARNATION (Emmy, Nominated, IDFA Audience Award 2010; Premiere POV 2012). Some of the films Jennifer Executive Produced include: LOVE & DIANE; ON THE ROPES; PROJECT TEN: STORIES FROM A FREE SOUTH AFRICA; MAURI BOY GENIUS; UPSTATE; CAT SCRATCH FEVER; and currently DADDY DON’T GO. She appeared in: TO HECK WITH HOLLIWOOD!; CINEMA VERITE: DEFINING THE MOMENT; and CAPTURING REALITY: THE ART OF DOCUMENTARY. Jennifer teaches documentary master classes and in Universities both in America and Internationally. Her work has been shown in numerous retrospectives around the world.

Chloe Barker - Editor

Chloe Barker - Editor

Chloe is a film graduate and post production specialist with over six years industry experience. She is an energetic and creative editor who is passionate about storytelling and producing engaging content. Working her way up the ladder Chloe has been employed by some of the biggest names in the business - creating content for broadcast, documentary, short form and commercials clients including the BBC, Channel 4, Sky, and Apple Inc. With a stint at the New York Film Academy in the pipeline Chloe is committed to developing her craft. Outside of filmmaking her other interests include, photography, fashion, music and travel.

Shannon Farhoud - Associate Producer

Shannon Farhoud is a a co-founder of Torath Productions (“Torath,” Arabic for “heritage”), a Qatar-based production company best known for their 2012 documentary, Lyrics Revolt, which chronicled the rise of Arab Hip-Hop as the soundtrack of the revolutions that rocked the Middle East region in 2011. Prior to founding Torath, Farhoud worked with a number of organizations including National Geographic, the Doha Film Institute, Qatar TV, and the Arab Games. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism (based at the Doha campus), Farhoud is from a mixed background – Syrian, Portuguese and Indian – and is a true believer in the power of film to help further understanding between people of different cultures.

Rana Khaled Al Khatib - Associate Producer

 Rana Khaled Al Khatib is a co-founder of Torath productions. Rana has shot, edited, produced and directed two award-winning documentaries that took her across the Middle East at the height of the Arab Spring. A top graduate from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Khatib received Northwestern’s Dean’s Award for her outstanding performance in media. She has worked at multiple organizations, film festivals and news agencies, including TEDxTalks and Al Jazeera. Some of her favorite journalistic trips have taken her to a Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon and to a clinic for HIV patients in Tanzania. Khatib enjoys traveling and learning about new cultures, and believes that the best way to document and tell stories is through the visual eye.

Ashlene Ramadan - Associate Producer

Ashlene Ramadan is the Executive Director of Torath Productions. Ashlene grew up in Qatar but has roots in Lebanon, and chose to work in documentary film because she believes that it's important to report and create documentaries for the MENA region that expose some of the complexities ignored by the mainstream media.

Melanie Fridgant - Associate Producer

Melanie Fridgant grew up in Qatar after moving from her native country, France. She is a co-founder of Torath Production, developing untold stories from the region, while pursuing a master’s in copyright law in London.


Connect With The Filmmakers:


IFP Fiscal Sponsorship Program 2019


UPDATE - January 14, 2014

Rawabi: The Story of a City was accepted to pitch in front of industry executives at the 2014 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in February.

Help promote my fundraising campaign
Put our donation widget on your website

Get Widget Code



IFP Logo


© 2019 IFP. All Rights Reserved
   Design by Andrew Martin

The Independent Filmmaker Project fosters the development, production and promotion of hundreds of feature and documentary films a year.

Learn more about us or become a member