A lot of people know Gaza only from what they see on the news: conflicts with Israel, Hamas as its political leaders, a border with Egypt that's sometimes open, sometimes closed, shortages, and poverty. A population of two million in an area of 365 square kilometers makes this one of the most densely populated places on earth. Clean water, food, and electricity are chronically in short supply. The United Nations has stated that this territory will be uninhabitable by 2020. With emigration impossible due to a ban on travel, Gaza is often referred to as the world's largest open-air prison. Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell deliberately want to convey a more nuanced impression and acquaint viewers with the people of Gaza. They spend time, for example, with two children, Ahmed Abu Alqoraan and Karma Khaial. Karma's liberal, cosmopolitan mother has given her a lot of freedom so that she can study law — but Karma dreams of escaping from the confines of her home country and getting a scholarship to study abroad. Ahmed, on the other hand, has no chance of going to college. A member of the largest family in the Gaza Strip, he has 36 brothers and sisters. He lives with all of them, his father, and his father's three wives in a refugee camp. The family's big dream is not to have to live hand to mouth. We hear from other residents as well: a taxi driver who chauffeurs the whole spectrum of Gazan society; a woman who organizes fashion shows; a tailor; a surfer; a hip-hop artist; and two wedding planners. All of them would agree that in spite of, or perhaps because of, the precarious situation they live in, they must hold onto their inner joy and their ability to dream.
Meet the director
Garry Keane, Andrew McConnell
Hailing from Donegal, Ireland, Garry Keane (1st photo) attended the London College of Communication and the Irish National Film School. In the past 25 years, he has worked as a documentary filmmaker in more than 20 countries. His made-for-television documentaries THE WRITING IN THE SKY (2011) and DEAFENING (2017) earned him the Irish Film & Television Academy's award for best director.
Born in Ireland in 1977, award-winning photographer Andrew McConnell (2nd photo) specializes in covering international crises such as the Northern Ireland conflict, the Syrian refugee crisis, and the bloody conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo. His documentation of the forgotten Sahrawi people of Western Sahara earned him first prize at the World Press Photo awards. McConnell has worked throughout the Middle East during the past eight years. He currently lives in Beirut. GAZA is his first project as a filmmaker.