By Stefano SAVONA


Animation - Post-Production 2018

The Samouni family survived almost 60 years of war and military occupation on their family land in Gaza – until 2009, when 29 members were killed during the ground o ensive by the Israeli military.
This is their story.

    • Year of production
    • 2018
    • Genres
    • Animation, Social issues, Documentary
    • Countries
    • Languages
    • ARABIC
    • Budget
    • 1 - 3 M$
    • Duration
    • 120 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Stefano SAVONA
    • Producer(s)
    • Synopsis
    • Gaza City: a farming community in a rural suburb. The neighbourhood is buzzing with the preparations for an upcoming wedding. Fuad, the bride’s brother, is busy arranging some plastic chairs by a half-built, half- destroyed mosque. His 11-year-old sister Amal hurries home holding two lettuces, each bigger than her head.
      She runs into the small garden by her house and sits by her favourite lemon tree. The rain begins to fall. Amal stares at the rain – committed and patient, her small hands remove the young tree’s withered leaves. We see into her inner world: a muddy black canvas where tentative, intermittent white strokes, becoming more and more realistic by the second, begin to lay down her memories in a succession of animated sequences.
      When the voice of Amal’s mother brings us back to the present, we meet the rest of the family. We soon discover their tensions, rites and clichés. Whenever the past calls, it projects its animated sequences on Amal’s secret blackboard. Progressively, these ashbacks lead us to the reconstruction of the days surrounding the 2009 attack on Gaza. We see these hours through Amal’s eyes: discovering how this funny little girl has managed to survive by miracle and sheer willpower. Her name is among those of the victims for three days, before she is nally rescued from the rubble of the destroyed house. The death toll is adjusted to 29 and her mother gets back her only daughter.
      The war over, we switch to documentary footage shot in Samouni Road the day after the Israeli troops retreated from Gaza in 2009. The family is barely recognisable: Fuad, Amal, her mother are ghostly, griev- ing gures wandering amid the devastated landscape.
      Finally, we are taken back to the days of the wedding. The tragedy has deprived the survivors of their houses and means of subsistence. Obliged to live on humani- tarian aid, some of the Samounis have become refugees. Yet many have chosen to remain in the neighbourhood, living in makeshift homes that are the perfect metaphor for life in Gaza: small, overcrowded, closed spaces, suf- focated by pain, sapped by mournful memories.
      Yet even here, life goes on. Amal runs through the orchards, eeing her mother’s insistent calls, forgetting she almost died and Fuad relies on his father’s tricks for growing the best lettuce. They prove that even in one of the most constricted places on earth, caught in the stranglehold of a military and ideological siege, men and women can still strive to be free.