A friend sent me this haunting video “This part of my life is called: Running!”, a compilation of clips from news media taken during this summer’s 51 days of slaughter and destruction in Gaza. While the video serves as a documentation, Palestinian filmmaker Eslam Saqqa’s artistic endeavor leaves the viewer on edge, fearful, remorseful and uncomfortable. A gripping, suspensefully-woven drama in 3:56 seconds.
I contacted Saqqa 23, living in Ramallah, to asked him a few questions about his video.
AR: I am interested in how you came about making the film, was it on your own initiative?
ES: First it was too much blood and too many body parts scenes in the media, too much of these photos make people care less, so I figured that I should make them care again. After that I continued collecting videos as I was doing from the beginning of the war.
AR: Tell me how did you feel being so far away seeing this footage, it appears to be a work from the heart.
ES: The main two things that can make me cry was seeing photos of martyrs before they die and second was watching people run for their lives (sometimes just before they die).
Running all over the world is something that people do to keep healthy, in Gaza people were running to keep their lives. I think that the war can make us (the people who belong to Gaza but not living there) more productive.
AR: When you say “people who belong to Gaza but not living there”, do you mean speaking as a Palestinian who is not there, or are you or your family from Gaza?
ES: I am speaking about any Palestinian who watched the war from the TV. And yes, my family and I are from Gaza, but I’m in Ramallah now since last February and my family is in Egypt. I have one brother who still lives in Gaza and he is OK thanks God.
AR: The idea of war making one more productive, or inspiring you to produce, could you please elaborate on that? Do you mean impulsively?
ES: I meant that it makes us want to do anything to help by.. and since we have time, relative safety and electricity, then we can do something. If we were there then we can’t write articles or make videos or anything, we would just wait for the next bomb.. wondering where it will explode and who will die.
AR: What is the music, it is so familiar but I don’t know from where. The piano opening – how did you choose it and at what stage in the process? Can you tell me about your relationship/history with that piece of music.
ES: The piece is called Summer 78 by Yann Tiersen. I first heard it in a movie called Goodbye Lenin. It’s a black-comedy film, and the music was just amazing. That’s why I used this piece, it makes us sad in a very strange way and that’s what we should feel when we talk about Gaza. I love this music .. and I knew that I will use it one day.. but I didn’t know how.. and here we are! I basically choose the music then I make the video based on it. And the same thing when I write articles, I choose the title first!
AR: Oh, you’re a journalist?
ES: Haha no no, I am not a journalist, I just love writing about life and films etc. I write for two Lebanese newspapers (Assafir , Al-Akhbar).
AR: Your film is a very powerful artistically. So you chose the music first, and did you also do that with “from Gaza with love” the video you shot with Lutfi Abu-Ghazaleh? Did the music inspire the film?
ES: No that was different. It was my first time to hold a camera and we just walked into the streets to shoot anything.. when I came back I made this video with the scenes that I loved the most so I can delete the rest.. I didn’t have enough space :D