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The headlines are stripped back and the political brinkmanship sidelined in this sober documentary about life for ordinary civilians in Gaza. This strip of coast, 25 miles long and seven deep, has become, says one interviewee, “like a big open prison” since Hamas seized power in 2007 and Israel and Egypt responded by sealing their borders with the territory. The film, an Irish-Canadian co-production, acknowledges the turbulent recent history that has lead to the creation of what amounts to a city under siege. But directors Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell are far more interested in individual human stories, in the struggle for a meaningful life in this graveyard for ambition.
Poverty is rife. We meet Ahmed, a 14-year-old boy, one of 40 children of a father with three wives. The extended family all cram into three rooms in a refugee camp, but Ahmed prefers to sleep on the beach. The strip of coast has a symbolic meaning for all Gazans. It offers the tantalising promise of open horizons and of food and industry. But a three-mile fishing limit is enforced by gunships. Freedom is an optical illusion and the fishing nets remain empty. “There are days,” says Ahmed, “when we only eat salt.”
We meet a tailor trying to run a business with only four hours of electricity a day to power his machines. A crumpled medic who patches up the young male protestors who hurl stones and burn tyres at the Israeli border. A teenage girl who finds solace in her cello. A taxi driver who served prison time for debt and found himself incarcerated alongside almost every businessman in Gaza. A fashion designer who is determined that the women of Gaza will look fabulous, no matter what the circumstances.
It’s a striking piece of film-making, beautifully shot by McConnell (a photographer). The stunning images he captures, the richly drawn characters we meet – you would assume that this alone would be powerful enough. But the film-makers add an intrusive score which occasionally tips the picture over from clear-eyed observation into something closer to manipulation.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Gaza review – human stories in a city under siege | Film