A Disturbed Earth digs into the grounds of family history to unearth a story about a village that once stood revealing memories of it destruction in 1948 where over a hundred young men were executed. Rihab, a descendant of the village, sets out from Sydney to collect shards of the story scattered across refugee camps. Her journey and memories of her elders, merge with the ‘imagined village’, blurring the lines between the remembered, the imagined, the forgotten, the fantasised and the broken. Attempts to reconstruct the story are met with a series of bolted doors, leaving Rihab locked out of her own history. Hidden in the Israeli state archives are important documents including the Palestinian film archive that was looted from the P.L.O. offices in Beirut in 1982. The film explores the ways in which the image of the lost village is cobbled together in exile. This is a story about dispossession, memory and longing – 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.