Daniel Barenboim, the world renowned Israeli-Argentine conductor and pianist, and Edward Said, a Palestine-American English scholar established a foundation to contribute to both national peacemaking and reconciliation through music. As a result, the ‘West-Eastern Divan’ Orchestra, which Israeli and Arabic young musicians joined, was created in 1998. It was named after an anthology of poems by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe inspired by an Iranian poet Hafiz. Barenboim and Said held Cultural Studies lectures on the differences between the two cultures as well as a music camp with the orchestra and tried to overcome the gap of ignorance and hate between them. Sadly, Said died of leukemia in 2003 but Barenboim has followed up his last will with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. Paul Smaczny has tried to find the first step towards peacemaking in the Middle East through filming Barenboim, Said and the orchestra over 6 years starting in 1999. The music concert in the Palestine Authority district of Ramallah, surrounded by armed soldiers in 2005, is especially one of the most moving scenes showing a triumph of art over politics.
Producer, director and screenwriter Paul Smaczny studied law, French and German literature, film and theatre in Germany and Paris. He has produced or directed more than 150 films and television programs throughout the world, capturing some of the most important musical events of the last fifteen years, featuring such renowned orchestras and opera houses as the Berliner Philharmoniker, Lucerne Festival Orchestra, Staatsoper Berlin or La Scala in Milan.