Saturday, August 14, 2010

Gaza-London: A short by Dima Hamdan

'Gaza-London' is a Palestinian film about Palestinians. Dima, whom I am privileged to know personally delivers, in 15 minutes, a promising directorial debut that is no doubt close to her heart. The Israeli war on Gaza provides the background to the emotional journey of a young Palestinian, Mahmoud, played very convincigly by Sami Metwasi. The interplay between the running TV commentary in Arabic and the dark surrounding of a London winter is for me a stark reminder of another war: July 2006 in Lebanon (English summers being what they are I can be excused for the seasonal discrepancy).

It is difficult not to feel tired of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or the Israeli-Arab conflict in general. Since before 1948 and the theme is one of two people pitted against each other in a spiral of violence with parallel claims to the status of suffering victim. Depending on your perspective, Israel is either a ruthless colonialist aggressor or a small country surrounded by hostile neighbours. What is less debatable is that it has succeeded in 'defending' itself for over 60 years, leaving in the process a trail of human tragedies.

'Gaza-London' covers this individual human aspect that is frequently overshadowed by the communal tragedy; the objective one that the international media tries to handle through accurate(?)bodycounts and camera shots of White phosphorus over the Gaza landscape. Anyone who has lived or fought through a war will tell you that the enduring tragedy is that of those left behind once the dead are buried. The rollercoaster of anxiety, sadness and relief experienced by Mahmoud might well turn into psychological scars. In her final scene, Dima does not answer that question for us but signals a noteworthy transformation that is very much open to interpretation.

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