From Under the Rubble

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From Under the Rubble

Directed by Anne Tsoulis

  • Australia 2017; 85 min
  • Original version: Arabic, English
  • Genre: Documentary

Synopsis

Following the Israel Defense Force’s invasion of Gaza in January 2009, the United Nations appointed an independent panel to investigate. The Goldstone Report accused both Israel and Hamas of war crimes. While the conclusion of the report has been hotly contested its content has not. This is a detailed personal account of one of the worst single incidents to be documented. Ten-year old Amal Samouni lost her father, brother and 48 members of her extended family. She spent three days trapped under the rubble before she was reunited with her mother. Now sixteen, Amal suffers daily from fifteen pieces of shrapnel imbedded in her head. Her shocking story is brought vividly to the screen in this powerful and affecting film from local director Anne Tsoulis that examines the sequence of events and the cost to those lives affected.

Director's Statement

In January of 2015, I travelled to Gaza just five months after the 2014 conflict that saw 2,400 mostly women and children perish and 80,000 homes destroyed. I wasn’t too sure what to expect. My DOP, Fady Hanona assured me it was safe to come. Even so, I entered with a good deal of apprehension.

Gaza City was as Fady had said. Despite all adversities – the siege, bombed out buildings, daily rationing of electricity (they now get 2hrs a day in the height of summer), contaminated and undrinkable water, and a lack of supplies, what I came to was a peaceful society getting on with their lives as best they could. Witnessing the resilience of its citizens and their coping mechanism as they work together as a community was truly humbling.

I met with Zeinat Samouni and her seven children. As two mothers we immediately bonded.

To listen to Zeinat and her children Amal, Mahmoud, Abdulla and Suhaib describe the horrors they endured during Operation Cast Lead in 2008/9, is to understand how strong and resilient the spirit can truly be. From Under the Rubble is their personal testimony of what happened when the Israeli Defense Force entered their neighbourhood, killed their father and four-year-old brother in front of their eyes, then rounded up one hundred members of their extended family and placed them into a house that was then bombed killing and wounding those inside. Amal, then 8yrs old, was one of six children trapped inside the bombed house for three days before the IDF allowed anyone near the area to come to their rescue. Today she lives with fifteen pieces of shrapnel embedded in her head too dangerous to remove.

What is remarkable is that after all, they have endured, they have lived through two more wars since, they still hold hope and aspirations for the future. Mahmoud has just got his degree as a speech therapist and Amal too has just begun university.

I wanted to make this film because of the anguish I feel in the fact.that civilian, in particular women and children,has become direct targets in military assaults and are no longer protected under international law. None of us can feel safe any more. It is happening not just in Gaza but in conflict zones throughout the world.

I hope this documentary contributes to promoting discussions on peaceful solutions that can give one assurance that Zeinat and her children are able to live out their lives without constant threats of attack. That they will live till their old age. They want the world to know what happened to them and for it not to be forgotten.

Production

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