Sunday 4 April 2010

GAZA ~ MOVIE ~ FATENAH ~ Parts 1 to 3

A woman from Gaza stands at an Israeli check-point. We can only see her back but it is clear that in shame she opens her top to a female Israeli soldier to show that her breasts have been removed in an attempt to beat cancer. Despite this, she is refused entry to Israel on security grounds.

This is the climactic scene from the first major Palestinian attempt at an animated movie and it is based on a true story. But this is not an anti-Israeli rant.There are good and bad characters on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide.

The heroine of the movie is called Fatenah.

Fatenah is a 27 year old woman living in the Gaza Strip. Her life is similar to the lives of many other women in Gaza. Her simple wishes were her consolation in the absurd living situation around her. But when she discovers a lump near her breast, she will start a journey to save her dreams.

However, Fatenah's dream of finding love and leading a normal life is torn apart by cancer and the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis. The animation tells of her fight against cancer; the removal of both her breasts, Palestinian doctors who delayed her diagnosis and Israeli soldiers who delayed her treatment.

It tells of a rare friendship between the Gazan and an Israeli woman, Dafna.

The animation is threaded together by a love story between Fatenah and a Gazan man.

The depiction of the impoverished coastal strip is condensed into harshly coloured scenes in the 30-minute animation; an Israeli checkpoint, crowded buildings and the sea.

Fatenah has large eyes and a small mouth ~ symbolic of a woman "compelled to a bitter existence but not empowered to speak", says director Ahmad Habash.

The life and struggle of the woman upon whom this film is based was told by the Israeli group "Physicians for Human Rights" in a 2005 report after the disease killed her.

"The report was so unbelievable, that when you read it you feel like it is fiction. It is absurd. You cannot believe that these things happen even though we as Palestinians live in this situation," says Mr Andoni.

Health care in Gaza is poor ~ a legacy of poor training, corruption and shabby equipment.

A blockade tightened after Hamas seized power of Gaza in June 2007 which has sealed people in, and kept medical supplies out. Israel says it continues to allow in humanitarian goods despite the blockade. The facts on the ground say otherwise in a very loud voice.

Seriously ill residents must find treatment in Egypt, Israel, or cross from there to the West Bank or Jordan. But it can take weeks for Palestinian bureaucrats to organize referrals and for Israel to approve entry.Even then, passage through is determined by any one of a plethora of "reasons" fabricated upon the spot by the guards at the gates.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

This animation took one year to be completed; it was produced entirely in Palestine by Palestinian producers and animators. The animation was completed in June 2009. The World Health Organization for West Bank and Gaza supported this project from the very beginning.

Fatenah is both the first Palestinian produced animation and the first story on access to health for patients in Gaza to reach the big screen. Over the last four years, the number of patients that request treatment outside Gaza has been growing due to the lack of specialized health care services in the Strip.

As the producer of the animation, Saed Andoni, and the film director, Ahmad Habash, have said:
Usually Palestinians are treated or are looked at as numbers. You hear that five people were killed, or that ten Palestinians died. But this is not the case. The case is that behind each number there is a long human story, and thats why we focused on this one story and individual, we wanted to tell the un-told human story behind the numbers.

Directed by Ahmad Habash
Screenplay Saed Andoni, Ahmad Habash, Ambrogio Manenti
Produced by Saed Andoni
Music Said Murad
Editing Saed Andoni
Animation Ahmad Habash
Director of Photography Ahmad Habash
Sound Designer Zaher Rashmawi

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