When you take your seat in the theatre ready to watch a documentary on such a subject as Gaza you know it’s not going to leave you particularly warm. Although when you do indulge in a documentary you also hope to gain knowledge and walk out feeling enlightened about said subject. Advertised as an in-depth investigation of the international media’s coverage of the 2014 Gaza war, filmmaker Martin Himel’s Eyeless in Gaza is anything but a progressive piece of work.
The feud in Gaza has been going on for decades, with the Israeli-Hamas conflict filling column inches and television news coverage for quite some time. Of course, 2014 saw yet another turning point and virtually everyone with a camera and Dictaphone wanted in. With Hamas launching rockets at the Associated Press’s Gaza camp we know exactly how this ‘documentary’ is going to go down. Desperately trying to make this unbiased there is no doubt Himel had one intention – to point fingers and ultimately say the Israeli’s were being hunted by evil people. A cocktail of propaganda snippets, archive footage and talking heads emerge to form a project lacking in substance and impartiality.
With one hell of a patronising narrator and maps that appear to be knocked up on Paint, Eyeless in Gaza fails on all fronts. The truth is distorted and lost in personal opinion, bad research (or lack of evidence thereof) and a bombardment of information provided with the hope to flood your mind with horrific images and accounts of savage actions, so that any new information discovered that may have a semblance of weight to it is hopefully forgotten. Alas, audiences are simply not that way inclined (well we hope so anyway).
Yes this features interviews with Palestinian journalists and Hamas leaders only for them to be asked futile questions and moved along rather quickly to make way for interviews that hope to sway you away from mediated lies splurged across the press obviously misconstrued and controlled by Hamas. Questions such as ‘where is the other side to this story?’ Or ‘how did they even get away with such a one-sided venture?’ are sure to pop into your head, followed by the desire to seek out what was originally offered up here via Google – perhaps a more reliable source.
Being a documentary allows for some corners to be cut in the world of filmmaking, yet half the interviews given were out of focus which doesn’t bring an ‘arty’ or ‘this is a risky documentary’ feel to it – it just looks slap-dash. Not at any stage here is anyone on screen been asked a bold or challenging question that catches them off guard. Nor at any stage will you have a eureka moment and think to yourself that enduring this thankfully short documentary was worth it. The whole point of a documentary is to inform from all sides, yet here all we get is one side is right and other is wrong, gaining little to no further insight into what’s happening in Gaza at all.