Hot Docs 2019: Our Review of ‘Gaza.’

Hot Docs 2019: Our Review of ‘Gaza.’

We often forget that amidst every political crisis stand human beings. For all of the political posturing that frequently goes on surrounding the Gaza Strip, there are ultimately real people who call the strip their home, and whose lives are altered by the current blockade. Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell’s film Gaza aims to put a face on a political crisis that may seem foreign to much of its audience. Within this film exists real stories of fishing families, schoolhouse teachers, and young cellists, that intertwine in a portrait of the human spirit amidst troubling times.

The cycle of conflict frequently alluded to within Gaza is best represented by the haunting photography of McConnell. This is a beautifully shot film; particularly whenever long shots of the landscape are used. The cinematography in some ways feels eerily reminiscent of pre-ruins photography, as if the film were showing eventual abandoned spaces, but with the human beings still present. The violence inflicted upon the area can be seen throughout the film in the form of scattered rubble and broken-down buildings, frequently glided by from our own ghostly vantage point. Yet, in order to prevent the film from becoming pure misery, Keane and McConnell frequently touch upon hopes and dreams of their subjects. To provide an example, one young girl believes she can obtain a foreign scholarship to study political science. Your heart aches when you subsequently question if it could ever happen for her.

Keane and McConnell’s film eloquently deals with some difficult subject matter, although this is a documentary that is not for the faint of heart. By sheer virtue of its subject matter this is an overtly political film, however; it will likely be heralded as one of the better ones in recent memory.

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Thomas Wishloff is currently an MA student at York University. He is new to the Toronto Film Scene, but has periodically written and podcasted for several now defunct ventures, and has probably commented on a forum with you at some point. The ex-Edmontonian has been known to enjoy a good board game, and claims to know the secret to the best popcorn in the world.
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