Private Project

The Blessing and The Curse

Closed-off to most of the world, the filmmakers were granted exclusive access to an isolated Jewish settlement in the Northern West Bank called Itamar which sits between two mountains- the Mountain of the Blessing and the Mountain of the Curse.

On the night of March 11, 2011, two terrorists penetrated the security fence of the community, entered the home of the Fogel family, who were asleep in their beds, and brutally murdered the parents and three of their children, including a three-month-old who was nearly beheaded. THE BLESSING AND THE CURSE is an intimate portrait that explores the aftermath of the crime and examines how the memory of that night still haunts the people of Itamar, and poses the question: Why would anyone choose to raise their family in such a dangerous place?

  • Stephen Lentini
    The Glacier Project, The North Canyon
  • Eric Gardner
    Race to Space, Bad Hair Day
  • Stephen Lentini
  • Edgar Burksen
    Darfur Now, The Shallows, The Hunt For Red October, Left Luggage
  • Meagan Solano
    Assistant Editor
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Genres:
    International, Human Interest
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 28 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    August 1, 2021
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
    English, Hebrew
  • Shooting Format:
    Canon 300 Mark 2
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Stephen Lentini

"The Blessing and the Curse" is Stephen Lentini's directorial debut in the feature length documentary category.

In 2018, he directed the narrative short film, "Theo's Trade," that garnered acclaim and film festival success. "Theo's Trade" is about a disheartened news reporter who escapes a racially-charged situation in Chicago and returns to his childhood home in the South. Here he performs slave re-enactments, hoping to counteract the negative portrayal of black men in the media.

Previous to that, Stephen produced and wrote two notable documentaries. First, "The Glacier Project," which is about two big wave watermen who surf the worlds' most dangerous wave. The wave is formed by skyscraper-sized glaciers that melt and crash into a small river below.

Second, the "North Canyon," which documents Big Wave Surfer Garrett Macnamara as he attempts to surf a 100-foot wave in Portugal.

Finally, Stephen started his career in television and worked in the commercial world where he was a creative director and director for many brands.

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Director Statement

Jewish Settlers moving to the West Bank is a controversial issue.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) holds that the establishment of Israeli settlements violate Fourth Geneva Convention. However, extreme voices on both sides dominate the conversation in the mainstream news and social media. The extremists have the loudest voices with Palestinians labeling Jews as occupiers and Jews accusing Arabs as terrorists. Many in the global community, led by the UN, deem the Israeli settlers an "obstacle to peace", while these Jewish settlers accuse critics of anti-semitism. Fortunately, these fundamentally incompatible beliefs aren't true for all Palestinians or all Jews.

With that said, I hope our film is an olive branch to the Palestinian Arabs and the world at large, we attempt to find truth within humanity where some may not see it. As the director, I know these stories are uncomfortable, for all of us, but they must be shared. Instead of seeing differences, I hope people find similarities in each other, instead of continuing the pyramid of hate- that includes Jews and Palestinians alike.

Granted unprecedented access to a community closed-off to most of the world, our story begins in the isolated Jewish settlement of Itamar. It sits on a windswept hilltop in the northern West Bank, surrounded on all sides by what this community considers to be hostile neighbors.

On the evening of March 11, 2011, two teenage terrorists from a nearby town overcame the security fence and entered the home of the Fogel family, who were asleep in their beds. Within moments the terrorists brutally murdered the parents and three of their children, including a three-month-old baby who was nearly beheaded.

"THE BLESSING AND THE CURSE” explores the horrific ramifications of this bloody crime and examines how the memory of that night affects the small community of Itamar. Many continue to ask: Why do they stay in such a dangerous place with their families and small children?

Each day, for over a month, the film crew traveled from Tel Aviv to the West Bank, through one of the most dangerous routes in the region. For us, the filmmakers, the risk was worth it. Through heavily guarded military checkpoints, security barriers and barbed wire fences, we explore the hearts and minds of extraordinary, brave, heartfelt people few have ever known. We hope that our film, told through the perspective of this community, leads to a more enlightened and positive conversation where both Palestinians and Jews can ultimately live in true peace and not fear one another.

Amir Yosman, one of our main subjects, sums this idea up best when he states in the film, "(It's) people to people, just uniting with each other, simple as that... not anything heroic, not anything peace process... Just people to people!"