Shuja’iyya, Gaza (TFC) – The Karama Gaza Film Festival thumbed its nose at convention and instead of choosing the most affluent part of a community to hold a glitzy event, chose to hold their film festival in Shuja’iyya. The word “Karama” translates to “dignity” in English. If the neighborhood’s name seems familiar, it’s because it was the scene of “The Battle of Shuja’iyya” or the “Shuja’iyya Massacre” during last summer’s war. Regardless of your beliefs on the event that happened last summer, what is known is that at the end of the fighting there were so many Palestinian bodies littering the street that official estimates range from 62 to 170 killed. What is also known is that the IDF ordered tanks to “fire at anything that moved.” Most of the dead and dying were women and children according to Doctors without Borders. The neighborhood was utterly destroyed. It is still in shambles due to the Israeli blockade. The easiest way to relate the scene of that day to Americans would be to compare it to Native Americans being slaughtered wholesale by US Cavalry during the 1800s. The Karama film festival is “a platform that utilizes screen arts that involve human rights and justice issues as their subject matter in order to create a cross-cultural platform for the wider general public together with filmmakers, artists, activists and other stakeholders, in order to raise public awareness and encourage their engagement in actions that would eliminate violations of Human Rights.” This morbid location was chosen to highlight the human rights abuses in Gaza. The company behind the festival is Lama, and it is based in Gaza. The company describes itself as:
Lama Film for cinema production is an independent production company established in 2010 and based in Gaza, Palestine. The company has been involved in number of projects ranging from short films to full-length features and documentaries .
Rather than hiding the destruction, they embraced it. In a community where people often attack modern tanks armed with little more than rocks, the suffering and reluctance to surrender is part of the national identity. Movies may be mostly made in Hollywood, but defiance is still manufactured in Gaza.