Sometimes I have the opportunity to view a documentary film as it is being produced, and I thought readers would appreciate the opportunity to see this film in progress. The name of the film is Road to Tantura and the filmmaker is a Palestinian/American woman named Hala Gabriel. This is a film about the nakba – the Palestinian tragedy of 1948 and this is a personal documentary which combines the national with the personal. The filmmaker tells her own family story and the story of the coastal village where they lived until they were forced to flee in 1948, all part of the national Palestinian history.
Hala Gabriel was born in a refugee camp in Syria. Later they made their way to Ann Arbor and today, she lives in Los Angeles. She is a very articulate woman who is looking for her family roots. She interviews family members living throughout the Palestinian diaspora and asks, why are we refugees? How did that happen? And she adds, I needed to know their story. Using the personal angle, she has created an honest and authentic document which discusses that terrible day in May 1948 when the Haganah attacked their village and they were driven from their homes. Some of the men were imprisoned and many were killed.
The film is beautifully photographed and the personal angle makes it authentic and quite emotional. The interview with her elderly aunt adds a touching aspect to the story – she recalls with a smile, floating on her back in the sea by their village when she was a teenager!
The filmmaker travels to England to meet a Holocaust survivor, who was one of the Haganah soldiers who participated in the attack that day. He tells the story and remembers the horror of driving the people from their homes and killing some of the men, all of which brought back memories of what happened to him as a child during the Holocaust. He couldn't stand it and this is why he went to live abroad.
This is a story that needs to be told if we are ever going to understand the pain and suffering experienced by the Palestinians living in this land.
The clip that I watched was 20 minutes and it can be viewed on-line .
You can also read about the film and the filmmaker on the film's website