In early 2001 I spent three months in Gaza filming material for this documentary, GAZA STRIP, working with local fixer and translator, Mohammed Mohanna. The second Palestinian uprising against Israeli military occupation had begun in September, 2000, four months before I started filming.
Though the period this documentary covers includes the election of Ariel Sharon as Israeli Prime Minister and large incursions by the Israeli Defense Forces into Gaza, in retrospect the time depicted here is one of relative quiet. More recent Israeli attacks against Gaza have been far more destructive and deadly than what falls into the scope of this film.
The time since the release of this film in 2002 has seen many changes, including the evacuation of illegal Israeli settlements inside the Gaza Strip and the election of Hamas. However, the occupation and attacks against Gaza continue, and the blockade of Gaza has intensified. It is my hope that this film will provide a partial introduction to Gaza for those who have come to the subject recently, and also serve as a document of its time.
What the Critics Said
"The absence of voice-over narration and talking-head interviews gives his portrait of daily life under duress a riveting immediacy ... in the best verite tradition, there are moments in ''Gaza Strip'' that disclose a wrenching human reality deeper and more basic than any politics."
-- A. O. Scott, The New York Times
"This is simple, but strong, journalism, the kind that tells a distressing story. It is educational reportage, the kind you wish there would be more of on television."
-- Claude Salhani, United Press International
"A documentary to make the stones weep."
-- J. Hoberman, The Village Voice
"A chilling docu showing everyday life in the Gaza Strip ... a must-see for TVs interested in informing the public."
-- Deborah Young, Variety
"As a perspective that is largely excluded from American attention, it deserves the widest possible audience."
-- Jane Adas, The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
"Longley constructs, through the eloquent editing of sound and vision, a riveting particularity so vivid that it transcends its physical borders to illuminate "everyday" life in divided cities, territories, and countries across the globe. "
-- Lesley Smith, Pop Matters
"... offering sequences that could rival Bunuel or Fellini ... one of the most important documentaries of recent times."
-- Phil Hall, Film Threat
"Taking a step away from the back and forth over who has a right to be where that is at the heart of the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict, this important documentary from American filmmaker James Longley looks closely at the toll it has taken on people who are among those most affected by the violence: Palestinian children."
-- Ken Fox, TV Guide : MovieGuide
"In Gaza Strip the camera never blinks ... at once grim, eloquent and searing, a film with a riveting particularity all its own."
-- Fawaz Turki, Arab News
"This documentary is vastly revealing ... and it's bigger than a summer blockbuster, more important than all our movie stars or the academy awards ..."
"Longley has presented convincing evidence that the Israeli occupation has created criminal and dehumanizing conditions for the people of the Gaza Strip. One would hope that this documentary would be broadcast on American television to reach the largest possible audience."
-- Pamela Nice, AlJadid -- vol. 8, No. 39, Spring 2002
"Beautiful, heartbreaking, raw and revealing ..."
-- Stephanie Saldana, The Daily Star