USA, 2009, 78min. | Switzerland/ Qatar, 2010, 86min.
It is almost impossible to find a film about Israelis and Palestinians in which their conflict is not present. It is almost impossible to talk about a film about Israelis and Palestinians without considering how they are represented.
Both Aisheen [Still alive in Gaza] and Budrus predominately portrait everyday Palestinians, and in both, only Israeli officials (border police) are present. Both express hope, though in extremely different ways in terms of content as well as style.
Budrus tells the story of the villagers who start peaceful protests against the route of the Israeli security fence. The route cuts off the village from the olive orchards and thus the villagers from their livelihood. By confronting the border police and the bulldozers that are uprooting their trees, the Budrus villagers hope not only to change the wall’s projected route, but also show that peaceful protest is the only way forward.
Aisheen – Still alive in Gaza shows the daily life of mostly unnamed Palestinians and the challenges they face. At a limited number of locations such as the beach, a playground, the zoo (or what is left of it), and the border with Egypt, we witness their struggle, the arbitrariness they encounter, the lack of recourse. Where Budrus focuses on a specific event, Aisheen shows us daily life with little specific context.
The representation of Palestinians in the news has changed over time. In, for example, Belgian newspapers a shift in the representation of Palestinians between the First Intifada (1987-1993) and the second (2000-2005) is visible. Palestinians go from having a largely positive image (of victims of an occupation) to a largely negative one (as terrorist bombers). Israelis go the opposite way. 9/11 and other international events play a role here.1
However, in Israel, the media the story is different. During the First Intifada, Palestinians
were altogether excluded from the Israeli screens, but during the second their human side was shown. A broad range of Palestinian figures were presented to Israeli viewers: political leaders, ordinary people and terrorists.2
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