cul­ture

Re­view: Ja­panese Break­fast An in­ter­view with Eileen Myles Screen­ing: ‘Killing Gaza’

The McGill Daily - - Contents - In­de­pen­dent Jewish Voices Cul­ture Writ­ers

con­tent warn­ing: de­scrip­tions of vi­o­lence

As part of this year’s Boy­cott, Di­vest and Sanc­tions ( BDS) Week at Con­cor­dia, Stu­dents in Sol­i­dar­ity for Pales­tinian Hu­man Rights ( SPHR) Con­cor­dia pre­miered the film Killing Gaza. Dan Co­hen and Max Blu­men­thal, the di­rec­tors and pro­duc­ers of the film, pre­sented their film with a warn­ing that the con­tent would be grim. They joked that they had just fin­ished in­sert­ing the score an hour be­fore the pre­miere, not­ing that we were their first au­di­ence. The two jour­nal­ists also promised us we’d find re­lief through wit­ness­ing Pales­tinian youths’ artis­tic re­sis­tance against all odds. Af­ter grap­pling with the au­di­to­rium’s sound sys­tem, the lights went off and we were vir­tu­ally in­serted into Gaza, post- Op­er­a­tion “Pro­tec­tive Edge,” or Is­rael’s 2014 at­tack on Gaza.

Video jour­nal­ism can record his­tory and spread in­for­ma­tion across the globe in an ac­ces­si­ble way. Dan Co­hen, as an in­de­pen­dent jour­nal­ist, spoke to this mod­ern tool but pro­vided crit­i­cism re­gard­ing its sen­sa­tion­al­ist and ar­ti­fi­cial uses. Video re­port­ing has cap­tured the grim ef­fects of war and catas­tro­phe, but rarely does it cap­ture what lives on af­ter a news­wor­thy event, nor does it ever mea­sure the dire ef­fects of tragedy on dif­fer­ent peo­ples. Max Blu­men­thal, an­other in­de­pen­dent writer and jour­nal­ist, joined forces with Co­hen to record the Is­raeli ter­ror­i­sa­tion of Gaza. Blu­men­thal also sought to record the shrap­nel of tragedy, the rub­ble of emo­tions, and the re­mains of a tor­tured peo­ple while other jour­nal­ists fled to cover news items deemed more “rel­e­vant.”

Co­hen and Blu­men­thal did not lie—the film was in­cred­i­bly bleak. Grand­fa­thers told of their grand­sons’ deaths at the hands of Is­raeli De­fence Force sol­diers, women cried as they suf­fered the heat of the sun, with­out shel­ter or elec­tric­ity. Ba­bies froze in Gaza’s harsh win­ter.

The film nev­er­the­less showed re­sis­tance in the form of civil­ians arm­ing them­selves to take on Is­raeli sol­diers, chil­dren play­ing pre­tend in the re­mains of a shelled mosque, youth break dancing on rub­ble, and a young painter show­ing off her oeu­vre.

The doc­u­men­tary is a tes­ta­ment to Pales­tinian’s poly­mor­phous re­sis­tance and hu­man­ity in the face of ter­ror, but also serves as ev­i­dence of Is­rael’s war crimes and the trau­matic ef­fects of these crimes on an en­tire peo­ple.

My gut clenched when I heard the taunts of right-wing Is­raeli pro­test­ers call­ing for the death of “all Arabs.” I felt ill as I saw Is­rael De­fence Force ( Tsa­hal or IDF) sol­diers, most of them my age, laugh and feast on sushi af- ter watch­ing the clouds of smoke from a bomb planted in Gaza blend with the sky’s tex­ture. Ev­ery in­stance of Is­raeli bru­tal­ity caught on cam­era was an­other re­minder of how de­sen­si­tised a peo­ple can be­come. This film tran­scribed the pain of in­di­vid­ual Gazans and plunged view­ers into the re­al­ity of un­quan­tifi­able agony. Co­hen’s cam­era fol­lowed in­ti­mate, do­mes­tic tragedies, but also placed them into a larger con­text, un­der­lin­ing the con­ti­nu­ities of Is­raeli hor­rors.

Through doc­u­men­tary film­mak­ing, the dif­fer­ent lay­ers of re­al­ity merged into a moral­is­ing and heart-wrench­ing call to ac­tion. At­tacks can­not sim­ply be tossed aside; they break com­mu­ni­ties. Be­yond a lost life, a whole fam­ily and com­mu­nity grieve their loss and tragedy.

The doc­u­men­tary im­merses the viewer into a com­plex, dense truth. One can­not sim­ply choose to look away or wan­der off onto the next ‘ most im­por­tant sub­ject.’ In the age of catch­phrase ar­ti­cles and minute- long news re­ports, Killing Gaza calls for us to take the time to con­sciously in­form our­selves on cur­rent is­sues in a deeper, more dili­gent way. De­spite the for­mal lim­its of film­mak­ing in fully com­mu­ni­cat­ing lived ex­pe­ri­ence, the film re­veals Gaza’s pain and en­cour­ages view­ers to pon­der which acts of sol­i­dar­ity have true im­pact.

Fol­low the di­rec­tors on Twitter at: @ dan­co­hen3000 and @ Maxblu­men­thal.

The two jour­nal­ists also promised us we’d find re­lief upon wit­ness­ing Pales­tinian youths’ artis­tic re­sis­tance against all odds. Blu­men­thal sought to record the shrap­nel of tragedy, the rub­ble of emo­tions, and the re­mains of a tor­tured peo­ple. Ev­ery in­stance of Is­raeli bru­tal­ity [...] was an­other re­minder of how de­sen­si­tised a peo­ple can be­come.

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