FILM: The Road to Gaza

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A shocking expose of the weapons and their effects used on Gaza.

In March 2009, two activists Patrick Ward and Stewart Halforty from the London Stop the War Movement travelled to the Gaza Strip in Palestine with the intention of documenting the effects of the recent attack on Gaza by Israel. Taking only basic equipment they crossed the border into Gaza where the full horror of the attacks became apparent.

This film remarkably shot in under 48 hours features interviews with the Samoudi family who lost 48 members of their family after Israel ordered them into a residential house which was then shelled. The lads also traveled to Gaza city and interviewed Dr Abu Shaban who is the Head of Burns and Plastic Surgery at the Shifa Hospital which saw the arrival of thousands of casualties during the attack. He gives a compelling insight into Israel’s actions during the attack on Gaza and raises the question that banned and experimental weapons were tested on the Gazan civilian population.

In February 2009, as Gaza lay in ruins, the true horror of what had been inflicted onto the civilian population was becoming apparent to the world. With demonstrations in London protesting the brutality of Israel’s incursion totalling in the hundreds of thousands, activists began to take action in many ways.

Having formed Fourman films a few years ago and having moderate success with my first award winning film ‘The Truth about Weapons of Mass Destruction’ I was by that stage well-known among London’s anti-war activists.

I was approached by Stuart Halforty and Patrick Ward about how to go about making a documentary film. It soon became apparent that their intention was to travel to Egypt and attempt to get themselves by any means across the border into the Gaza Strip. It soon became clear to me that they whilst lacking any semblance of self preservation they also were preparing for a risky adventure which was dangerous and for the cause.

What they lacked in experience and equipment didn’t matter, they were going to go. The discussion soon moved from a lack of equipment to asking if I wanted to come with them. To tell the truth, I was horrified and didn’t have any annual leave which was a convenient excuse. If you consider that there is not enough funding support for young documentary film makers than you will understand that there is none for maverick film makers.

They stand against the grain. What they lack in presentation and formalities one sees in a commercial world, they are increasingly honing their skills and with the costs of production falling, they are producing quality documentaries which do not answer to corporate media conglomerates.

Documentary has become the new graffiti in a class war. An affordable way to have your say and draw people’s attention to a message. Some David and Goliath confrontations have been born through this new medium. Being unable (or too scared) to travel with my activist buddies to Gaza I found myself in an unusual position. I loaned them my equipment, gave them some basic lessons (talked about every mistake I had ever made) and agreed to edit their film when (if) they returned.

Some weeks later, I bumped into Stuart.  He had returned the day before from Gaza. They had succeeded. They had returned triumphantly with interviews and footage. Despite only having 48 hours in Gaza they had succeeded in interviewing Dr Abu Shaban form the Gaza hospital and families who had lost many many loved ones.

Some disturbing content is mixed in with some serious speculation from the doctor that experimental weapons had been targeted against civilians. A sad upsetting and compelling insight into the suffering of the Gazan people who whilst clearly suffering trauma hold themselves with dignity as they tell their stories of how their families were destroyed by a state aggression which knows no compassion.

[via Paul Hanes and Australians for Palestine]

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