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The Do Gooders

An acutely personal documentary on the complexly political issue of Western aid programmes in Palestine.


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  • Director Chloe Ruthven
  • Producers Chloe Ruthven, Mike Lerner
  • UK-Palestine 2013
  • 75 mins
  • Production company Roast Beef Productions. In association with NFTS Film Clinic sponsored by YouTube

British documentary filmmaker Chloe Ruthven’s grandparents were aid workers in Palestine. Growing up, she had avoided getting too involved in the subject, recalling how mention of the country made all the adults in her life angry. In her forties, after revisiting her grandmother’s book on the subject, she starts to research a documentary on the effects of foreign aid in the area and is shocked at the continued reliance on it there. Along the way she meets Lubna, a Palestinian woman who acts as her driver and fixer, and who is fiercely critical of Western aid efforts in her country. What begins as a quest to better understand her family history turns into a deeply emotional account of two women trying to understand one another. Ruthven’s determination to focus her film on deeply subjective analysis results in a unique joining of the acutely personal and complexly political.

Jemma Desai

Director biography

Chloe Ruthven’s first feature, Mario and Nini, followed two nine-year-old boys over five years, as she struggled to help them find alternatives to a life of crime. The film premiered at Sheffield Documentary Festival in 2008, and bought by Sky 1, where it was widely reviewed. Her second feature, Death of a Hedgefund Salesman, which looked at the banking crisis through her oldest friend turned chancer, won the Best Newcomer Award at Open City Docs in 2011. The Do Gooders is her third feature. When not making films, Chloe works with disadvantaged young people across London schools. In 2011 she started The Quadrangle Film Festival with a group of fellow filmmakers.

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