‘Gaza:’ An uplifting study of a land in turmoil

The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on Tuesday. (Image Supplied)
Updated 31 January 2019
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‘Gaza:’ An uplifting study of a land in turmoil

CHENNAI: There can be few things more heartrending than the plight of people living without jobs, clean drinking water, and crammed into a narrow stretch of land blockaded on all sides.
But this is the reality of Gaza, where 2 million Palestinians live as virtual prisoners. Once described by former British Prime Minister David Cameron as an “open-air prison,” Gaza is hemmed in by Egypt, Israel and the Mediterranean Sea. The borders are nearly always closed.


It is this tiny strip of land – 25 miles long and 7 miles wide – which is the subject of the documentary “Gaza,” directed by Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in the US on Tuesday.
What is remarkably elevating about Gaza is the resilience of the people who live there. The documentary contrasts their daily sufferings with the simple joys of their lives. Despite grinding poverty, some push themselves to play sport, dance and sing, and celebrate weddings and other ceremonies with seemingly not a care in the world.
The music is occasionally punctuated by the wails of mothers who have lost their children to Israeli shelling, which is answered by angry crowds of stone-throwing Palestinians. 
This film is an enriching portrait of a territory facing perpetual conflict. There have been three wars there. Israel moved out of Gaza in 2005, destroying its settlements and imposing a debilitating blockade in the process. The militant Islamic group Hamas came to power in 2006.
There is a telling scene of 19-year-old Kamal standing by the sea and longing for the freedom to travel. With the unemployment rate at 50 percent and electricity available for only four hours a day, the UN predicts the Gaza Strip will no longer be fit for habitation by 2020. 
Yet life there goes on: We see a teacher, barber and student going about their affairs, and a man enjoying a coffee by the beach and exchanging pleasantries with passersby.
Despite all the gloom and sorrow, the humanity, color and joy of this documentary still manages to leave the viewer feeling uplifted.


Jeddah's Kanz Al-Balad, Al-Ozwa Street Performance enthrall visitors

Updated 16 June 2019
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Jeddah's Kanz Al-Balad, Al-Ozwa Street Performance enthrall visitors

  • Kanz Al-Balad takes visitors on a historical journey through Jeddah’s Al-Balad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Al-Ozwa Street Performance is an interactive play about a young man who is preparing for his engagement ceremony

JEDDAH: The 40-day Jeddah Season festival is currently underway, with the launch of a schedule of international shows and plays being presented for the first time in Saudi Arabia.

The festival, which began on June 8 and runs until July 18, forms part of a major drive to boost tourism in the Kingdom.

Most of the festival’s events are taking place at King Abdullah Sports City, Jeddah’s historical area, Al-Hamra Corniche and the Jeddah Waterfront.

Among the events is the Kanz Al-Balad scavenger hunt for families and children, with 41 shows lined up for the duration of the festival. 

Kanz Al-Balad is organized daily at Bab Jadeed from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., and is aimed at helping participants learn more about Jeddah, interact with businesses, and improve their creativity and problem-solving skills.

Participants are split into teams, and are tasked with finding hidden objects or places with the help of clues.

Kanz Al-Balad takes visitors on a historical journey through Jeddah’s Al-Balad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For comedy and history lovers, Al-Ozwa Street Performance is a must. There are four 45-minute shows daily until the end of the festival.

The interactive play, set 100 years ago, is about a young man named Omar who is preparing for his engagement ceremony, and encounters a dilemma unrelated to his engagement.

He needs the audience’s help to get him out of the trouble he is in, and to have a problem-free engagement ceremony. Show timings are 6:15 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 8:45 p.m. and 10 p. m.

Raed Abuzinada, general supervisor of Jeddah Season, said the festival is part of a national initiative to promote the tourism sector, which is a major contributor to the Saudi economy.

Visitors buying tickets online for any of the festival’s events can secure an e-tourism visa at the same time, he added. The visa will be issued within three minutes, he said. Details are at www.sharek.com.sa.