Filmkommentaren Denmark: Nahed Awwad: Gaza Calling

Published on filmkommentaren.dk, Tue Steen Müller, on 05\12\2012

Samer lives in Ramallah, his mother is Safa, who lives with his father and siblings in Gaza. Mustafa lives in Gaza, his mother, Hekmat, and his sisters live in Ramallah. The distance between Gaza and Ramallah is around one hour’s drive. Samer and Mustafa are separated from their families, they can not meet them. They communicate via cell phones and video clips shot here and there. They live in occupied territories and the occupier does everything to make their lives difficult. To say the least.

It is a very important film that Nahed Awwad has made. It is both informative and emotional. It visualises what we seldom hear about – how it is to live under these apartheid conditions. It goes, to use a stupid cliché, behind the scenes of thousands of news clips from Palestine and Israel. In that respect it unfolds a human perspective on the background of the humiliating living conditions, which are given to the Palestinians by the Israelis.

Awwad also uses the film medium to convey the buraucratic absurdity of communication between the Palestinian Authority and the Israelis, whenever the Palestinians apply for an id to travel or stay or… Accompanied by light bossanova music a brilliant montage takes us (and the letters/applications) from the offices of the Authority to the Israeli administration offices that happen to be placed in a settlement! Just around the corner. (The film originally carried the working title, ”The Mail”).

The film also touches upon the relationship between Palestinians from Gaza and from the West Bank. Hekmat, for me the most impressive character in the film, has a Gaza id, stays illegally in Ramallah, ”I’m a criminal”, she says, having no intention to go back to Gaza, wishing/hoping/trying to get permission to see her son Mustafa after years of separation. In the most moving scene in the film, Hekmat and her daughters watch clips with Mustafa on the beach in Gaza. The camera stays on their faces as the heartbreaking scene develops emotionally. Don’t talk about it, show it. This is what this film does so well.

Palestine, 2012, 64 mins. Will be shown at the upcoming Dubai International Film Festival (December 9 – 16)