Last night, BBC2 screened The Alternativity, a unique documentary in two episodes following Danny Boyle's visit to Bethlehem as he worked with Palestinian director Riham Isaac to create a unique performance of the Nativity with local children and performers.
In March this year, graffiti artist Banksy opened The Walled Off Hotel in the little town of Bethlehem - a place under Israeli occupation, overlooked by a vast security wall and with checkpoints controlling the roads in and out.
In a bid to bring some festive cheer to what he said was "the least Christmassy place on earth", Banksy decided to stage an 'Alternativity' in the carpark of his hotel around the corner from Manger Square, Bethlehem. But as a famously anonymous graffiti artist who had never put on a play, he was going to need some help - and who better than celebrated Oscar-winning film director and maestro behind the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony, Danny Boyle?
Accepting this unorthodox request from a man he has never met, Danny admits the closest he has ever been to the Middle East is a fortnight in Majorca. Thrown in at the deep end, he travels to the occupied Palestinian territories to create a spectacular show from scratch.
Shot over six weeks, this fascinating documentary follows the action as Danny overcomes the many restrictions to assemble a cast and crew, meeting local children, theatrical performers and a great many donkeys along the way.
How will Danny tell the story of the most famous journey ever made - in a land where movement is severely restricted? Will he find a donkey? And, as if the challenge wasn't big enough already, can he fulfil Banksy's request to make it snow?
Patrick Holland, Controller BBC Two, says: "It is brilliant for BBC Two to be working with Danny Boyle, Banksy and the creative team who together are making this alternative nativity. It promises to be a challenging and provocative exploration of a story of that speaks to young and old alike."
The show, broadcast in 17 December 2017, is available on iplayer for one month.
Watch the first part here: www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b09jxdbk/alternativity-2017-episode-1
See the performance: www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b09kdtq6/alternativity-2017-2-performance
NOTE: the broadcast is now on Youtube: www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGxP8NlkIuA
The Alternativity is an Acme Films production for BBC Two.
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