Abu Dhabi: Bombs thrown at people, bursting into flames and igniting flesh, in neighbourhoods in Gaza, innocent children severely injured or lying dead under rubble, and mourning mothers weeping for their lost loved ones. These are just some of the real-life images presented in the film Tears of Gaza.
Vibeke Lokkeberg, director and screenwriter for Tears was watching the news a week after the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, happening between 2008 to 2009, when she heard a devastated boy speak about how his family home had been bombed, leaving him without a father.
Five months later, she heard the story of Amina, a 10-year old who had witnessed her father being blown into pieces. Amina’s brothers were all shot while running out of the building in which they lived, after the bomb blast.
The little girl was left alone, with an injured leg that she describes during the 82 minute screening as "a leg that looked like chopped liver".
"I wished I could have died with my brothers and father," she said.
So moved was she that Lokkeberg made up her mind to go to Egypt. There, she contacted a Palestinian film-maker, who agreed to make a film documenting the lives of three young children, Amira, Yahya, and Razmira.
Real life footage of corpses, exhumed from beneath the rubble of bombed buildings, was captured in scenes that they couldn’t have planned if they’d wanted to.
What’s more, the film shows the psychological impact that the war has had over the people of Gaza.
Yahya is seen crying and mourning for his "murdered" father (as he puts). The young boy vows to pursue a career as a doctor when he grows up, to help save injured people.
"I want to become a lawyer to defend these innocent children and our homeland," says 10-year-old Amira.
This is not a run-of-the-mill documentary, but an extremely moving and at times shocking account of the brutality of war. Grown men and women were seen sobbing while it was shown and the unsparingly graphic scenes proved too much for some members of the audience who left before it was even over.
But judging by the round of applause it received at the end and the heartfelt praise heaped on the director, the majority who saw it were extremely impressed.
In her opening address, Lokkeberg said: "I was furious at the sight of these victims, and felt obliged to give these people some of their dignity back. Since the media is censored and there are very few realistic scenes displayed about what’s really happening in Gaza, I decided to go for this film. I couldn’t just sit there and watch."
When asked by tabloid! about how she felt after hearing the positive feedback from her fans, Lokkeberg said: "There’s an audience out there who don’t know the truth. Hearing these comments is my gift back. Even though I wasn’t physically in Gaza, I felt compelled to write a script directly, and communicate my thoughts and ideas to the camera-man over the phone."
She wanted to make sure Amira, Yahya and Razmira met in the film. "The end of the film shows Amira, Yahya and Razmira meeting, despite not knowing each other. I had to be sure that I portrayed the exact angle from the victim’s side, because they represent most of what the Gazian children go through."
She added: "I mentally prepared myself before producing Tears. I knew that people would call me an anti-semitist, however no disagreements will be solved by war and the military, and one cannot be that afraid, someone has to speak up, otherwise nothing will be done to stop war and the killing of innocent people."
Tears of Gaza: A journalist's perspective
If I hadn’t been writing about this film, I probably would have joined the walk-out crowds who left the cinema after just 45 minutes. I actually developed a migraine during the first half of the movie from the intense, roughly-shot and disorganised scenes. It felt like being in the war; and was almost too realistic.
The bodies of innocent children and men and women being dug out of rubble, with missing body parts, is just too much for an ordinary person to watch. But sadly, this is what has happened in Gaza, and is still going on.
It’s about time someone spoke about it, and I must agree with what most of the audience said while congratulating Lokkeberg. "Finally someone speaks out the truth."