I missed John Humphrys’s introduction to Mishal Husain’s interview with the filmmakers of a 90-minute film called “Gaza”. I came in when Husain was well into it.
Apparently, this documentary had been shown at The Sundance Film Festival, which was held in Utah during December 2018 - January / February 2019.
Despite today’s confusing weather, it’s not winter; we’re currently in the second week of August. I couldn’t help wondering why this was considered newsworthy now? Was it someone’s idea of a ‘filler’ - you know, aural ‘silly season’ padding at the time when the only news available is an expert’s prediction that all the cows in Ireland will have to be slaughtered if there’s a no-deal breakfast. I meant Brexit, but I said breakfast instead. (If only it were pigs rather than cows they could just turn them into bacon, which is a popular breakfast dish.)
Talking of Ireland (Eire) it is extremely disturbing that most Irish Catholics reflexively side with the Palestinians and loathe Jews. I suspect they still blame the Jews for ‘what they did’ to Christ, even though the Pope has forgiven us. That’s quite rude because Catholics are to do what His Holiness says they’re to do, isn’t it?
So why was this on the Today Programme on this day especially? Did it win a prize? No, I don’t think it did. I take that back; it did win some awards in Dublin, so it did.
Anyway, the filmmaker is an Irishman called Garry Keane and his colleague is called Andrew McConnell. There are several rave reviews in the Irish press, where it is described as wonderful, poignant and full of people staring wistfully out to the sea, preying silently for freedom and playing the cello.
Wouldn’t you just know that the one and only review that takes a more circumspect view of the film is in The Hollywood Reporter, and penned by someone whose name ends in ‘berg’ which alone evokes a certain partiality.
“Directors Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell show what ordinary life looks like in Gaza in a beautifully shot, increasingly manipulative documentary.”
“For much of its running time, Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell's Sundance documentary Gaza achieves its ambitious professed goal, namely opening eyes to the side of Gaza that isn't usually seen in the news, the ordinary lives of people living in an extraordinary place that one subject calls "a big, open prison."
That it begins by asking "What do the people do when they're not under siege?" and ends by surrendering to what is basically propaganda, not just the footage and view of Gaza we see in the news, but a manipulative and disingenuous version of that view, isn't a surprise. Within the context of the doc, it seems almost inevitable, but I still watched for at least 50 captivated minutes hoping for restraint I probably should have known would eventually be surrendered.”
Other reviews are all but elegiac - the reviewers are incensed by the suffering of the trapped and tortured people of Gaza and, with the collective breathlessness that you
always rarely see where Gaza is concerned, they implore everyone to go and see it.
Paying lip service to ‘balance’ Mishal asked if Hamas had been ‘airbrushed’ out at all, misquoting the words of the Hollywood reviewer, whose actual words were:
“The press notes for Gaza say Hamas is one of the villains of the story, but that's a ludicrous statement. Hamas may be one of the villains of the actual historical record, but it's a non-factor in the documentary. Occasionally we pass by a military-affiliated figure with a rocket launcher or a machine gun, but to watch Gaza you'd think such weaponry was only used to be fired in the air when the Israelis free unjustly imprisoned Palestinians.”
Anyway, now I’ve looked online, I see that BBCWatch has covered the story so I don’t have to go any further with this. It transpires that the BBC’s excuse for featuring the film ‘now’ is that it’s being released here, so everyone can go and see it and be inspired to join the Hamas Solidarity Campaign to help the Palestinians by demanding the right of return for five million Palestinian refugees, open borders for the people of Gaza and the elimination of the Jewish State for the betterment of mankind.
Wasn’t Mishal Husain in Gaza at around the time these fellows were footling around there? I wonder if she bumped into any of them and had time to have a nice chat.