Sounds Do not break the night, by Julio Iglesias. From his album A lonely man. Issa, a Palestinian fisherman living in the Gaza Strip, is also alone. Julio’s ballads inspire him because he is in love with a widowed dressmaker, Siham (Hiam Abbass). The two are the protagonists of Gaza my love, by Tarzan and Arab Nasser. That that song, that album sounds, is not by chance. Like Issa, the father of these filmmakers, identical twins, was a romantic, “a fan of Julio Iglesias even though he didn’t understand his lyrics.” “Listening to that song brought us a very nice memory of childhood,” says Tarzan (although it is almost impossible to tell them apart). “When our father came to pick us up from school, we studied in southern Gaza, it was a place full of flowers, with the smell of strawberries, the air was clean. Everything was beautiful. It has been destroyed by the Israelis, there is nothing there anymore… We remembered and put Julio in the film ”.
Tarzan and Arab have lived in Paris for five years, first invited for an artistic residency and welcomed after the success of their first film. Degraded. But it has been more than a decade since they left Gaza. “We left before we were 20 years old, but our hearts are still there, our memories, our childhoods,” says Arab. “We are still attached to the place and connected all the time with family and friends. This movie is a love letter to Gaza and about Gaza, ”adds Tarzan.
An interview with these two men is chaos, more for Zoom. Dresses like stars of glam rock, Painted eyes, low-cut shirts, military boots, they interrupt, answer at the same time, to end up saying the same thing. “We are two bodies for the same soul and two actors for an action”, they define themselves. They were born in Gaza and have never been separated. “We do all together. We live together. We have the same point of view. We fight, of course, but we share everything. “
Together they watched television where they discovered cinema and also their love for fashion, “watching Indian cinema from the seventies”, they were inspired. “Through television, our dream of directing, of being artists, began to grow, until through a teacher, the only one who had studied abroad, in Russia, we began to make films,” they say. They studied Fine Arts and debuted with works of political claim such as Gazawood, Hollywood-style posters about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. From there they jumped to the movies. “On Degraded We started something that we have continued in Gaza My Love and we will continue exploring: counting the day to day in Gaza ”, they explain. The following will be a western about Hamas, they might call it Once Upon a Time in Gaza.
If in Degraded they showed the Palestinian strip from the windows of a hairdressing salon, in which its owners and clients were locked in waiting for the crossfire to end; on Gaza My Love, the occupation is even more in the background, although it is constant, in the sky, on television, distant shots. “Inside Gaza you don’t see the Israelis, but you see them …” they say. For this reason, the Nassers cannot come back (“Well, coming back would be easy, but we couldn’t go out again”), they had to shoot between Jordan and Portugal. “Everybody expects to see suffering when they see a movie about Gaza. All the references we have are the image of the news or documentaries ”, they state. “The most important problem is the occupation, of course, but there are many more daily problems, we do not want to victimize people, we want to show another face: in Gaza they still fall in love and live a normal life despite everything, in a place where that there has been no horizon for a long time ”.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.