"Gaza Strip" Filmmaker James Longley Screens His Documentary at NYU Film Center

By Adas, Jane | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, January/February 2002 | Go to article overview

"Gaza Strip" Filmmaker James Longley Screens His Documentary at NYU Film Center


Adas, Jane, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


"Gaza Strip" Filmmaker James Longley Screens His Documentary at NYU Film Center

Jane Adas is a free-lance writer based in the New York metropolitan area.

Filmmaker James Longley traveled to Gaza in January 2001. For three months he filmed Palestinians--in Red Cross tents, on the streets, at the hospitals, in the morgue. On two occasions when Longley was filming at Karni crossing, Israeli soldiers fired at him. He kept the camera rolling.

Longley edited 75 hours of footage into an 87-minute documentary, "Gaza Strip" which was shown at the New York University Film Center on Nov. 17. This was only the second screening of the film; the first was at Harvard University. "Gaza Strip" is an unflinchingly honest portrayal of a population under siege. As a perspective that is largely excluded from American attention, it deserves the widest possible audience.

Among other scenes, the film shows people struggling to transport produce on donkey carts and in old trucks through the water's edge of the Mediterranean because all other roads are closed to Palestinians; new neighborhoods of Red Cross tents spreading across the dunes after the Israeli army demolished homes that its spokesman claimed were uninhabited; and confusion at a hospital emergency ward when too many wounded arrive at once.

Longley was filming at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis on Feb. 13, the day after Israeli soldiers fired large canisters that released a sweet-smelling gas into the Khan Younis Refugee Camp, hospitalizing 216 people. The film shows some of them suffering from a range of complaints, including convulsions, muscle spasms and hallucinations. Having no idea what the gas was, but certain it was not tear gas, doctors were unsure how to treat the patients.

The film often views life in the Gaza Strip through the eyes of children. One of them is a 13-year-old paper boy in Gaza City. …

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