Gaza’s own Hollywood?

The release of Hamas’s first feature film, produced in Gaza on a budget of only $200,000, is noted by the Guardian and theJerusalem Post. As might be expected in view of the filming location, it’s descibed as action-packed. 

The film's producer, Fathi Hamad, is also the Gaza interior minister, so I can’t see it making much of an impact at Cannes. Hamad is quoted as saying: "We are trying to make quality art that is Islamic and about the resistance, without provocative (sexual) scenes."

My gut feeling is that this is a complete waste of time. Will the film actually influence anybody? And aren’t there better things to do with $200,000 in Gaza?

Along with Hamas TV’s version of Mickey Mouse a couple of years ago, it will probably turn out to be totally ineffective propaganda. The Mickey Mouse series provoked an enormous fuss from MEMRI and others – with the unspoken assumption was it corrupting a generation of Palestinian children.

However, a research paper published earlier this year by Arab Media and Society shows that its effect on children was virtually nil. Based on extensive fieldwork, Yael Warshel concludes that Palestinian children much prefer global television to local television:

Their favourite channels, to which the overwhelming majority have access … include, in order of preference, Spacetoons, the Saudi-owned Arab Radio and TV Network Channel 3 (ARTeenz) and Middle East Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) Channel 3.

Their favourite programmes are also global, not local. They consume American, Japanese and pan-Arab television far more than any other programmes, including local Palestinian shows …

When asked, the children never cited programmes flagged by MEMRI as being part of the martyrdom, or for that matter, anti-Jewish genre, as programmes they watched … The number one television programme Palestinian children consume is the American-produced Tom and Jerry.

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 6 August 2009