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Groundbreaking web video project builds documentary bridge between Gaza and Sderot

"The day after the war we need a new beginning. Let's start planting seeds of humanity and trust now"
Hope Man, Jan 2nd 2009

The Israeli city of Sderot lies a few miles from Gaza and towards the end of 2008 the French TV Station Arté produced 80 short films/vlogs in both Sderot and the Gaza strip where Palestinians and Israelis talk about their hopes, dreams and fears. The last episode of Gaza Sderot : Life in Spite of Everything, was produced on 23rd December, four days before the bombardment started.




Films from both areas are presented side by side in a Flash interface letting you act as editor to decide which stories to watch and when to change perspective, with a scroll-bar in the middle to take you back in time through the 40 days the project ran for.

In a conflict where the abject suffering, mistrust, injustice and fear seems to blind clarity and reason, it's seems - tho I have only just begun to explore what is there - to be a vital illustration of the men, womena and children at the heart of it, whose lives are under threat from Israeli bombardments or Gazan rockets. There have been no updates since the 23rd December, and it looks unlikely that there will be more for a while - from the French producer, Serge Gordey on New Years Eve:

"After many attempts to communicate in every possible fashion, I finally managed to talk on the phone with our Palestinian colleague, Yousef Atwa. Yousef is the producer who has been leading the project in Gaza all these weeks.

Everyone’s concern is above all to find some shelter from the « collateral damages » of the air strikes, he explained to me : when you live in Gaza City, the odds are that some way or another you live close to a police center, administrative offices, military premises, government centers, cultural institutions that are headed or influenced by the current power, etc. And in that case, you might get hit, even if you are not the primary target. Therefore, our production team in Gaza is disbanded at the moment: all the members of the team have been trying to find shelter together with their dear ones, in other places, such as the countryside, with friends or relatives.

Moreover, communication lines are broken because of the electricity cuts that are more severe than ever. And on the top of that, people don’t move around the city so as to avoid being hit by unpredictable air force attacks.

From all this it was easy to understand that  getting into contact with our characters is proving to be very difficult."

gaza_map.pngIt's similar in concept to the Life Must Go on in Gaza and Sderot blog, written by “Peace Man” in Sajaia Refugee camp in Gaza and “Hope Man” in Sderot, which describes itself as:

This blog is written by 2 friends…  The media coverage on both sides has been extremely biased. Our Blog is written by 2 real people living and communicating on both sides of the border.

Of the current conflict, Hope Man said on Jan 2nd:

"For 5 months there was an almost complete cease fire. Instead of taking advantage of this long period of quiet to reach a long term agreement, both sides spent their time preparing for this war by planning and arming. No serious efforts were made to start a dialog...

The day after the war we want to start finding ways to work together and create a normality. We are only several kilometers apart and that will never change. It is extremely important to widen our dialog and create trust between those that are willing to talk. To share our stories, fears and hopes.
The day after the war we need a new beginning. Let's start planting seeds of humanity and trust now.

(via the brilliant Global Voices world blog network). All my thoughts to those suffering there right now, and I pray that no more lives on either side are lost.