"I'm 16 and I've already been through 3 wars." Farah Baker, a young Palestinian, denounced in a tweet followed by 70 000 people, the situation of Gazans under the Israeli blockade. Summer ...
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"I'm 16 and I've already been through 3 wars." Farah Baker, a young Palestinian, denounced in a tweet followed by 70 000 people, the situation of Gazans under the Israeli blockade. Summer 2014, shocked by her tweet and by the war on Gaza, I took my camera and encountered Palestinians in Bethlehem before, during and after the war on Gaza. Through an artist, a banker, a florist, a woman race driver, a woman mayor - We discover how they are affected by this conflict in their daily life and how they rebuild their society despite the oppression.
Chronicles the events of those hard months in 2014, from a perspective that makes us value the fragility of freedom and peace.
A LONG HOT SUMMER IN PALESTINE follows documentary filmmaker Norma Marcos as she travels to Palestine in order to shoot a film on the subject of women and daily life in the West Bank. It all goes as planned, but this was the year of 2014. While Norma gathers material for her documentary, the events that led to the War on Gaza began taking shape off screen.
The documentary immediately shifts from its initial intentions and purpose, and becomes a document on how Palestinians endure the aggression directed towards them by Israeli forces, and how different Palestinian people with normal lives try to cope with a war that weakens their economy and jeopardizes their attempts to organize and rebuild their country. A LONG HOT SUMMER IN PALESTINE is an example of documentary film-making that is forced by circumstances to change its initial agenda and point its lens towards new developments that occur around it. The initial plan was to make a film about different women and their daily lives in the West Bank; women such as a female race driver and a female mayor. However, as we are presented with scenes of daily life and traditions of the Palestine people, a dark cloud begins to loom in the background. We are shown idyllic scenes of weddings, teenagers singing to their favorite music and the preparation of the world's largest Katayef (The Guinness World Records). This is all a taste of what normal Palestinian life looks like, far from the outsider propaganda that tries to sell them as terrorists.
This is the summer of 2014, when three Israeli teenagers were abducted in the West Bank. Israel blames Hamas. Israel's next move was a military assault known as "Operation Brother's Keeper" which resulted in casualties, and arrests of Palestinians. These attacks included air strikes, ground invasions, overall repression and violence. We are shown the calm before the storm, while life for Palestinians is far from idyllic under Israeli occupation, they manage as best they can to try to lead normal lives, but the conflict in this part of the world is far more ancient and sadly it will most likely continue towards the future. As a filmmaker, Norma Marcos realizes that the events surrounding her visit to her land cannot be ignored; she must change gears and begin to modify her initial plan. The initial story would still have been powerful, but the circumstances now dictate the course the documentary must go. Life during that summer changed for many, while simultaneously remaining the same as it has been for centuries in that region. The events showed the world that Israel is committing atrocious acts without anyone standing up to them. The camera shows Palestinian West Bank solidarity with Gaza, as well as how Palestinians are not allowed to roam freely through their land without permission from the Israelis. As we keep visiting zones in Palestine and their people, we keep hearing the shells exploding in the distance, and in one of the most beautiful and poignant sequences in the documentary, we are shown a cat sheltering her kittens as she nourishes them. The sound of bombardment makes the kittens seek protection and comfort beneath their mother. This scene is representative of what many went through during this Summer; people trying to live their lives as normal as possible while simultaneously having to protect themselves from the fires of war.
Ms. Marcos could have easily removed the rushes intended for the original project. Instead, what she does is keep this material, while gradually warning us that things are about to change drastically in Palestine and Gaza. The reason for keeping the original material is to show us how people's lives and plans change overnight when faced with the threat of war. We can go through our day as we normally do, unaware that in the distance there is a series of events we are unaware of, that will shape the destiny of our country and fellow people. The second thing that Ms. Marcos does is to simply show Palestinians as people just minding their own business, going through their daily lives and simply wishing to be free without Israel breathing down their necks. We meet artists, business owners, and religious leaders. These are not terrorists, but regular people who unfortunately have become the punching bag of a country that has forgotten what it is like to be persecuted and harassed at every turn.
Norma Marcos narrates the documentary herself. Her voice and cadence is full of sorrow, it sounds tired yet hopeful and unbroken. She shows the beauty of Palestine, the calm and warm days under the summer sun, juxtaposed with stock images of violent confrontation in the streets as well as a remarkable night sequence where the dark sky if filled with the unnatural thunder of exploding shells. It shows us a Palestine that is beautiful in spite of being broken up by checkpoints and walls. This is a documentary that expresses both sorrow and beauty, hope and despair. It ends on a sad note, but still manages to keep hope for a future when Palestinians will be finally free to live their lives just like we are shown in the tranquil segments of this film; without violence entering the frame to disrupt their lives. For those of us who are only observing this conflict from other parts of the world, it is also a reminder of how we must never take for granted our freedom, peace and tranquility. These various elements constitute the strength of this project.
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