Nagham Mohanna: Back to Gaza from Corfu

Young Palestinian filmmaker Nagham Mohanna, who took part in the mediterranean/middle east documentary training program Storydoc (see below) sends this report on her journey back to her home via Egypt. I have made some small edits and language corrections:

Hello everybody, I hope everything is ok and not so horrible as I am feeling now. Let me tell you about my travelling because it is really amazing. I left Corfu at 7:25 am and arrived in Athens at 8: 20 am on Saturday. Stayed in Athens airport around 5 hours.

Left Athens at 2:30 pm and arrived in Cairo at 4:30 pm.

And here we begin. The opening of a torture journey. When an Egyptian officer saw that I am Palestinian the procedures were started, to know if they can let me enter Egypt or not.

While waiting in the airport and seeing how other people with other nationalities entered Cairo without any problems, they called me to investigate about my job and the workshop that I attended in Corfu. They told

me that maybe they will take me immediately to the border and not let me enter Cairo again.

I asked them how could that happen as I am a journalist and a girl and you have to show for me some respect! At 10pm they called me back and told me that I can enter Egypt, but that another Gaza filmmaker who attended the workshop will be expelled. I thought that I did not want to miss a big opportunity to discover the way and procedures of expelling, so I asked them to expel me with other people.

The procedures are: They called me into a special room where they put the Palestinians inside. It is not allowed for anybody to get out, actually it is not a room it is more like a prison. I sat with people and started to chat with them. It was really horrible what I heard and saw, from women, children and men in the same room, sharing the same toilet. There were people who had spent 4 days with their children – one of the children got sick and he spent time suffering the fever without seeing a doctor. Another spent a month inside this room without getting out. People are waiting for their flight and for visa to go to other countries like Saudi Arabia. Some young people prefer to spend many days in this room instead of going back to Gaza. I met lovely people there. I spoke with them a lot – the child Mahmoud who suffers from Autism, he was with his father and brother without his mother, who couldn’t travel with them because she does not have Palestinian ID so she couldn’t be with her children. I loved these kids, who kept coming to hug me.

At 1 in the morning they took us to another area at the old Cairo airport and put us in a room underground. This is really like a cell (3m x 5m)  and does not allow us to get out. The difficult thing was that I was so sleepy because I did not sleep well the last night, so I needed to sleep but the uncomfortable chair did not give me the chance to sleep. I am writing this section sitting in the room that I am talking about.

At 7pm in the morning they told us that they will take us to the bus, and now I am sitting in the bus going to the border. We are moving with the traffic of Cairo. I spent like 6 hours in the bus, slept around 2 and reached the border at 1:45pm. The good thing that I left the border at 3pm to Gaza I did not spend lots of time in the border, now I am going home, I miss my home, my bedroom and my bed for sure, home sweet home.

What I am really furious about is that the massage I made in the hotel in Corfu was gone, and really, I need extremely now 2 hour of massage to recover my bones again!        

So I am in Gaza  after travelling for two days, I am sure that each one of you took like hours to reach your home and sweet bed, but every thing has a different way when it reaches Gaza.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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