A filmmaker in Jerusalem

Blog, Video Production

Bismillah

I’m a fraud. I walk amongst the ill, injured and oppressed and capture their pain on my camera… then I return back to technology, luxury, opulence and ‘spirituality’…

Today I spent an afternoon with the team who brought me to Jerusalem, visiting patients from Gaza, filming the distribution of aid. Lack of planning (on my part) left me quite frantic and without a fellow crew member I was overloaded with pressure and responsibility. In these situations, walking through busy hospital wards you really need a good amount of preparation and assistance, of which there was little or none. Thankfully our fixer had identified interviewees but other than the usual set of questions most NGO filmmakers ask beneficiaries, I was on my own and a tiny bit panicking. After the first slightly botched interview I had to gather myself and all my chi, energy, focus and play both the interviewer, producer and camera op. Being a low budget filmmaker I’m quite used to that but recent trips abroad a few times by bigger NGOs have spoiled me so it was a case of regaining that zeal young doc makers have.

Thanks also to Zayd, the head of the charity, I regained my balance and we went from room after room of ill Gazans, who had little or no access to medication in their native Gaza. Instead they’ve had to travel to Jerusalem, leaving behind family in a dangerous and uncertain situation. A few were there having suffered horrific injuries from the current war. Many of them were in a state of limbo, living in the hospital waiting for the conflict to end so they could return home.

You never get used to seeing people in difficulty. During the maelstrom of covering as many rooms and interviews as possible in the shortest amount of time I wasn’t so effected, till of course we had a few moments here and there to sit. And each time I sat, with the only intention really of resting my legs and arms, I was hit by a wave of remorse, of my helplessness and also my obtrusive presence. I was like a vulture. Though the team who brought me did an amazing job, a unique one at that (they’ve been linking donors directly with the beneficiaries during the aid distribution, for an unprecedented amount of transparency) I felt quite disturbed by my own belligerent trampling through peoples’ emotions.

Ethics are important in life. As is telling the truth. It’s the line in between, in my field, that I struggled to navigate today. You can’t exploit people. But then again, you need people to share their stories, and I hate to say it, so us desensitised westerners will open our hearts and wallets!

Maybe I’m still just a bit rattled by the way I operated today. I’ve since returned to the hotel to type this up in the hopes of somehow processing my thoughts and feelings. Bourgeois I know…

Tomorrow we go to Ramallah, to visit the mukhayam. Mukhayam… a word I’m hearing too often these days. Camps…

Image taken by myself, Jubair Khan, and rights with Zaimah, 2014.

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