Following the everyday jobs, lives and loves of people in the Gaza Strip, 'Gaza' offers up a human examination of how the area is portrayed by western media, and the realities of what it entails.
When it comes to horror movies, the general thinking is that the best ones are the ones you don't want to see become horrors. We develop a bond with characters, we root for them and connect with them on an emotional level, so that when they begin to suffer trauma, we're invested in them. That might seem like it's being trite about human lives and the worsening conditions in the Gaza Strip, but really, it's at the heart of what 'Gaza' is about.
There are real, human people there who just want to live. They're eager to create a better life for their children, they have friends, they drive their taxi around and sing to music on the radio, they get into friendly arguments, they wile away their days - but all while this is happening, there is a constant threat of mortal danger hanging over their heads, which can strike at any moment and cause untold, irrevocable damage to them - both physically and emotionally.
It's fascinating to watch 'Gaza' and recognise that no two stories seem remotely the same. Some are ardent that for them, there is no life but Palestine and their fierce devotion to their land is why they will not move, though it may cost them their very lives. Others, meanwhile, know full well that to do so is to court death and destruction and that a better life is beyond the borders of the strip. Whatever the reasons are, we know above all else that they are, again, real and human people.
While it might seem like there is an easy way to paint 'Gaza' as being a documentary about the tragedy of those who live on the strip, what directors Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell so eloquently display is that the horrors visited upon these people are not defining to them. They are more resilient than one might initially expect, because it is simply a part of their daily lives. By focusing in on the minutiae and the simple routines, we're confronted with a people who, in the words of one of the subjects, "just want to live."
By equal measure life-affirming, harrowing, joyful and enraging, 'Gaza' is a unique portrait of a people and a place that is rarely represented with a such an engaged and emotionally available lens.