`Gaza Strip' captures Middle East turmoil

April 13, 2002|By Chris Kaltenbach

Events in Jerusalem and the West Bank over the past several weeks add an unsought urgency to James Longley's documentary Gaza Strip that makes it required viewing for anyone looking to understand not the whys behind the Middle East turmoil, but the hows.

Longley, filming in Gaza during spring 2001, watches as Palestinians living in Gaza City and the Khan Younis refugee camp go about the business of living in a world where machine-gun fire is normal background noise and the number of friends you've buried may be greater than the number who are still around.

We hear a 13-year-old newspaper hawker describe how he's pretty much the only breadwinner his family has; a mother and daughter seeking safety in a Red Cross tent debate what is more important, justice or peace; a despondent young boy wonders aloud why anyone wouldn't choose martyrdom over living in this kind of world.

Certainly, there is an equally disturbing film to be made on the Israeli side of the line, as people there cope with a world where suicide bombings kill or maim scores of civilians on a daily basis. Like Gaza Strip, such a film would show a world so totally alien to our own, a world where human life and liberty are so casually, randomly and obscenely disregarded, that it's hard to understand why any peace wouldn't be preferable.

The 75-minute documentary, part of the Johns Hopkins Film Festival 2002 and the "Frontiers of Dreams and Fears: New Cinema from Iran and the Middle East" film series, screens at 1 p.m. tomorrow in Gilman Hall Room 110 on the Homewood campus. Tickets are $3 for the general public; students and employees of the university get in free.

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