A Disturbed Earth traces the attempt to assemble the pieces of a lost village destroyed in 1948 when over one hundred men were executed. Rihab sets out from Sydney to reconstruct the story through the memories of her elders in Lebanon’s refugee camps. Searching for a visual trace is a journey through a disappeared history. Rihab’s attempts are met with a series of bolted doors. Stories passed down and her imagination, are what’s left to reassemble the village, blurring the lines between the remembered, the fantasised and the broken. The research journey weaves through the elder’s memories, culminating in the symbolic burial of the massacre victims. Speakers at the site of the mass grave broadcast the voices of elders gathered in Ain-El-Helweh refugee camp. Their disembodied voices reach the location through speakers that encircle the mass grave, as if soothing the disturbed earth of the burial site. This is a story buried, but waiting under the breathing rubble of a village.
A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing
The films covers a number of issues including, refugees, exile, dispossession and what happens to communities that aren't able to bury their loved ones.
What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?
I want to highlight the situation for Palestinian refugees. I would like to give the audience a sense of what the loss of one’s ancestral village means in the hope of raising awareness about the plight of Palestinian refugees. I want this film to shed light onto the importance of communities being able to bury their dead in a dignified manner. Under international customary law, people have the right to bury their dead regardless of the circumstances of their death or how long ago it occurred.
What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?
I want this film to reach indigenous groups and communities around the world. I believe it is important for indigenous people’s around the world to share stories with each other to help draw lines of solidarity and mutual support. I have an already established network of First Peoples filmmakers and other artists who are increasingly making connections and joining the dots between colonialisms all over the world. It’s always important to remind and inspire each other of the importance and power of telling our own stories and sharing them with like-communities around the world. In recent years I believe there has been a shift in First Peoples filmmaking from the ‘explanatory’ approach to one of agency and creativity. I would like to tap into these communities in Australia, North and South America, West Papua and other parts of the world and share with them A Disturbed Earth.
How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?
A Disturbed Earth was selected for the first Good Pitch Beirut which was a gathering of over fifty Arab filmmakers, producers and civil society workers. We brainstormed strategies for the over eight films selected including A Disturbed Earth. So we are in the beginning stages of developing our strategies. We have also applied for the first Good Pitch forum that will partner the selected films to organisations that can support the film's outreach and impact goals. It will be held in June 2020.
Audience Engagement and Social Impact
What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?
We hope to first and foremost raise awareness about the plight of refugees (not only Palestinians) and what it means to have to escape dangers in your own home, never to able to return. We hope that there will be many spin-off outcomes as a result of this awareness raising.
Measurement and Evaluation
What is the projects indicators for success?
We are currently developing our impact campaign in which we will set out our goals and indicators for success.