World-renowned conductor Daniel Barenboim and Palestinian writer Edward Said have generated controversy and admiration with the founding of their West-Eastern Divan Orchestra in 1999. This documentary follows a unique musical collaboration, dedicated to furthering the cause of peaceful coexistence in the Middle East, bringing together young musicians from both sides of the divide: Syrians, Jordanians, Egyptians, Palestinians and Israelis. Director Paul Smaczny has followed the orchestra since its inception. The film chronicles all five summer workshops in Weimar and Seville, Barenboim’s visit to Ramallah and Jerusalem in 2004, as well as highlights of the European tour in 2005.
An integral part of the documentary is the footage of the orchestra’s co-founder Edward Said, a noted literary critic, scholar and advocate for Palestinian independence. For him the orchestra was ‘one of the most important things I have done in my life’. For Barenboim, the orchestra is a metaphor for what could be achieved in the Middle East.