Miami Heat basketball player, art collector, and filmmaker Amar’e Stoudemire releases The Village of Peace on Vimeo On Demand, sharing the story of Ben Ammi and the African Hebrew Israelites with audiences worldwide. Stoudemire joined the film early on as Executive Producer after a twitter message from the director sparked his interest. The trailer and feature can be seen here.
The documentary film explores a community of African-Americans from Chicago, who in 1967 began a two-year migration to Dimona, Israel. The founders of the village recount their epic journey from the backdrop of oppression and upheaval in Chicago, through the unfamiliar terrain of Liberia, to what they now call home in the Negev Desert. Approximately 300 people made the original migration; today, over 3,000 African-Hebrew Israelites live and thrive in Israel. The group is known for being vegan, polygamist, and for the teachings of their spiritual leader Ben Ammi who passed away after the filming of the documentary.
The Village of Peace premiered at Santa Barbara International Film Festival and was featured at other festivals worldwide including Pan African Film Festival, and San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.
“The story of the African Hebrews is incredibly powerful and dates back to the Civil Rights Movement, but remains a relatively unknown facet of Black History. Although the community is controversial in some aspects, there is definitely a lot of inspiring qualities that shine through. Based on their diet alone – here is a group of thousands of people who suddenly go vegan and reinvigorate their entire culture. From food, to music, to spirituality, they transformed every aspect of their lifestyle. It is inspiring to see the kind of significant change that strong discipline can reward. A lot of these families came from Chicago, and if you look at the turmoil in Chicago today, the contrast couldn’t be more striking.” – Amar’e Stoudemire.