Nahed Awwad: Gaza Calling

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)

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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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