They shoot films in Gaza, don’t they?

Eva Bartlett reports from Gaza on the ways in which a besieged people enjoy entertainment:

The question of the arts in times of siege and occupation is one of the main themes in Gaza’s newest theatre production, Film Cinema, which opened on 4 August in Gaza City. A stage buried in film negatives, and adorned with a lone plump teddy bear, sets the scene of the three-person play.

“I’m Hossam Abdel Latif, and I want to make a film,” the would-be film director repeatedly begins, facing his running video camera, only to be repeatedly interrupted.

“Tomatoes, get your tomatoes! Ten shekels, come on and get them!” calls the tomato vendor on the street from offstage, the sound breaking into Hossam’s apartment-studio. Undeterred, Hossam begins filming anew until Souad rushes into the room: “Tomatoes, we must buy tomatoes. They’re just 10 shekels.” Souad’s interruptions continue: on the messy state of the apartment, her desire to have a baby, her loneliness.

The plot is simple — a filmmaker and the challenges he faces — but is embroiled with all that is life in occupied Palestine, making an amusing, and at times soberingly real, hour of theatre. Film Cinema recalls the last Israeli massacre in Gaza — but without reference to a specific time, it could be any of Israel’s military invasions of Gaza — and addresses the dreams and pressures Palestinians experience under the oppressive siege of Gaza. At the same time, the play shares the universal realities of marital spats and individual desires.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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