x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

High hopes for Palestinian 3-D animated film The Scarecrow

Filmmakers in Gaza have finished making what is believed to be the first Palestinian animated 3-D feature.

Filmmakers in Gaza have finished making what is believed to be the first Palestinian animated feature in 3-D, in a bid to show a fresh perspective on life through a child’s eyes.

Called The Scarecrow, the 40-minute production tells the story of a 9-year-old orphan named Rima and the scarecrow she was given by her parents who died in a car crash.

One day, the scarecrow – who represents the guardian of Palestinian land – is taken away by an Israeli soldier from the family’s land near the border and Rima sets off with her school friends on a mission to find it.

It is a story which evokes some of the suffering of Palestinian refugees, says the director Khalil Al Mazen. “The world is used to seeing Palestinian children surrounded by death, destruction and war, but this film focuses on their simple dreams,” he said.

“Judgment [on the conflict] is left to the viewer,” said Mazen, who holds a diploma in filmmaking from the Saint Petersburg Academy in Russia.

For the designer and lighting specialist Usayd Madi, 23, the main aim of the feature is to communicate the “brutality of occupation, which doesn’t spare children”.

The designer Zainab Bakri is confident the project will be well received “because the message of the film is humanitarian.

“Imagination and animation are more accessible than documentaries,” she said after working for months with her team in a small, improvised studio in Gaza to complete the project.

“Imagination is a wonderful way of putting a message across,” agrees her colleague Aya Abu Hamra.

But first, they want to show the film to a local audience – no mean feat in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, where there is not a single working cinema. There is no date yet for a premiere, which the directors say is likely to take place in a town hall or some other local venue.

Those involved in The Scarecrow are hoping that their film will go a lot further. “We’re working to distribute the film (abroad) once it has been shown in Gaza,” says Nur Al Khudari, the director of the Gaza-based Zeitun Foundation, which started the project.

First stop is the Arab world. “We’re in talks with Arabic-language satellite TV channels to sell it,” he said.

It took a team of 12 local animators and designers nine months of training in direction and production to complete the film, funded by the World Bank at a cost of US$147,000 (Dh540,000). – AFP

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