As part of its pan-Arab theatrical release, the documentary feature Gaza Surf Club by directors Philip Gnadt and Mickey Yamine will be released in Kuwaiti theatres as of Thursday, March 1st, 2018 at Cinescape Cinema, marking the first documentary to commercially release in Kuwaiti theatres.
Trapped in "the world's largest open-air prison" and ruled by war, a new generation is drawn to the country's coastline. Sick of occupation and political gridlock, they find their own personal freedom in the waves of the Mediterranean – they are the surfers of Gaza.
Directed by Philip Gnadt and Mickey Yamine and co-produced by Stephanie Yamine, Gaza Surf Club is a feature documentary film that stars Sabah Abu Ghanem, Mohammed Abu Jayab, and Ibrahim Arafat.
Khaleejesque was given an exclusive interview with producer Stephanie Yamine, who gave some insight into how the movie was received by the public.
The film revolves around surfing in Gaza and largely avoids talking about the difficult living conditions and the reasons for the siege – has this led to criticism?
There have been a few instances where someone thought the film left out too many political issues and criticized us for not focusing on the conflict and the occupation enough. It’s a legitimate criticism of course, but I find that if they see it that way, it’s because they constantly want to see Gazans as victims and refuse to see the human side of them.
We had to explain that we are not doing a political movie and that there is a different side to Gaza that we wanted to take out to the world, other than what people already know and see every day on the news.
It is well known that the Gaza Strip is besieged and that there are many obstacles and tough restrictions on entering the area. What were some of the difficulties you faced during the filming in Gaza?
I remember only one situation where we were stopped and asked to delete what we filmed because apparently, we were filming next to an area of Hamas installations.
We also expected more difficulties getting in and out through the Erez border crossing (from Israel to Gaza), but were surprised to find that things were very much organized and that once we had all the necessary papers and permits, things were pretty smooth and faster than we thought.
Also filming inside Gaza was easy as people are very welcoming when they see a camera. They believed we were regular reporters and usually the media that travels to Gaza reports favorably.
Where are the main protagonists of your film now? Sabah, Abu Jayab and Ibrahim.
Sabah is married and just had her baby very recently. She called him Fayez. Abu Jayab is still in Gaza, fishing and earning very little money with the hope that things will get better one day. Ibrahim is living and studying in Houston (TX, USA). When the film was screened in Gaza, his family went to see it and apparently was very touched to see their son in Hawaii.
Feature documentary Gaza Surf Club will be released in Kuwait theatres on March 1st, 2018.