DURATION: 49 min.
August 2008, two small greek fishing boats broke the naval siege, illegally laid by the state of Israel on Gaza, for the first time after 41 years.
“Gaza We Are Coming” records the historic and risky journey of 44 activists from all over the world, who, by breaking the embargo, proved that history is often made by those that the wise and prudent determinists call ‘unreal’.
Directed by: Yorgos Avgeropoulos, Yiannis Karipidis / Script: Nikolas Zirganos / Produced by: Nasim Alatras / Production Manager: Anastasia Skoubri / Director of Photography: Yiannis Avgeropoulos, Yorgos Alexopoulos / Editing: Yiannis Biliris/Anna Prokou / Sound: Kostas Katalimatias / Original Music by: Yiannis Paxevanis / Graphics: Sakis Palpanas / Assistant Journalist: Ahilleas Kouremenos / Cooperating Journalists: Petros Yiotis, Aggelos Athanasopoulos / A Small Planet production for Al Jazeera Satellite Network © 2009
Original shooting format: HD 720p25 / Languages: Greek, Arabic, English / Subtitles: Greek, English, French / Available Versions: Greek, English, French, International
- BEST DIRECTION PRIZE / 12th Pyongyang International Film Festival / Pyongyang - North Korea / September 2010
- BEST GREEK FILM WITH DURATION OVER 45 MINUTES / 12th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival / Thessaloniki, Greece / March 2010
- BEST DOCUMENTARY / Patras International Film & Culture Festival - 12th Panorama / Patras – Greece / October 2010
- BEST PACIFIST FILM / Patras International Film & Culture Festival - 12th Panorama / Patras – Greece / October 2010
‘Quite often history is made by those that the wise and prudent determinists call unreal’.
A few months before Israel’s attack on Gaza (December 2008), and while the Israeli army had started to bang the drums, a handful of activists from around the world achieved the unreal. They broke, in August 2008 for the first time in 41 years, the naval siege of Gaza.
The idea for the journey was conceived by American academic Paul Larudee, one of the founders of the ‘Free Gaza Movement’ back in 2006. A previous attempt had turned out tragically when the leader of the mission, Riad Hamad, was found dead, hands and knees tied, in a lake in Austin, Texas. Despite the cancellation of the mission, Larudee did not give up and in the end of 2007 he came into contact with Vangelis Pissias. In his own words : ‘This project died a thousand deaths and every time it was about to die someone, somebody new, stepped forward to save the project. This put us in touch with Dr. Vangelis Pissias.’
Since then, in utmost secrecy, a few Greeks, fighting in solidarity with the Palestinian people, started to work hectically on repairing two small fishing boats that were destined to go to Gaza. From the two small shipyards, in Eretria and in Spetses, the plan started to become reality. Pissias contacted trusted friends and fellow comrades who would be his companions throughout the mission and they responded without second thought.
But what was it that made some people risk their lives on the Palestinian issue? ‘In an era when brutal individualism has become a mainstream ideology and has swept everything around us, indeed there was no other way for me, I had to go’, director Yiannis Karipidis tells us. ‘Since I consider myself a man of the left, the Palestinian Issue forms an integral part of this side of mine, because here we have a unique phenomenon in world history: a people bleeding for 60 years and for 60 years holding the flag of resistance and freedom high’, journalist Petros Yiotis continues.
From Eretria and Spetses to Chania and from there to Sitia, Castelorizo, Larnaka. Every stop marked an adventure. Problems would appear with the small fishing boats ‘Aghios Nicholaos’ and ‘Dimitris K’, disagreements among the foreign activists that had also arrived for the journey but their experience in sea matters was limited, and there was also the fact that state authorities would set up obstacles of all sorts preventing the normal course of the mission. All this was not enough to beat the will and faith of people to perform their duty, which felt sacred to them.
And so, the 2 fishing boats with 44 people on board set off from Larnaka towards their final destination, Gaza. The document that arrived and stated that while performing military exercises Israel would forbid the access to all vessels, humanitarian aid ships included, in the area along the whole Gaza coastline and as deep as 35 naval miles, didn’t discourage anybody; quite the contrary, it strengthened their will. Even when the Israelis blocked the boats’ satellite system of intercommunication, the decision that was made during the onboard assembly that followed was indicative of the courage of the passengers: ‘we keep going until the captain is threatened’.
Τhe Israeli state, also because of international pressure, made the decision not to intervene and so on Saturday, August 23rd 2008, the sight the activists laid eyes upon inside the Gaza Port was magic. More than 5.000 people were giving them a heroe’s welcome. ‘The human mind cannot grasp this image. You can’t visualize beforehand the eyes of the children that are looking at you from the water, when they have jumped into the sea and are swimming towards the boat. This you can’t picture, this image you only see and afterwards you can’t forget it’ Vangelis Pissias remembers. ‘The moment we were entering the Port of Gaza , the moment when thousands of people were gathered, almost hanging like a bunch of grapes from the dock and all around the port, and you could see thousands of people cheering, is the most intense, emotional feeling I have experienced so far in my life’, academic Takis Politis adds.
These activists , 44 people from 17 countries and among them 9 Greeks, did not feel like heroes, though. They just felt that perhaps they had contributed to a minimum degree to the Palestinian struggle to shake off the threat that the state of Israel has been posing for decades. ‘Gaza We Are Coming’ is about the will of these people to prove that nothing is impossible when the cause is just. And the journey continues…
Directed by: Yorgos Avgeropoulos, Yiannis Karipidis / Script: Nicolas Zirganos / Produced by: Nasim Alatras / Production Manager: Anastasia Skoubri / Director of Photography: Yiannis Avgeropoulos, Yorgos Alexopoulos / Editing: Yiannis Biliris/Anna Prokou / Sound: Kostas Katalimatias / Original Music by: Yiannis Paxevanis / Graphics: Sakis Palpanas / Assistant Journalist: Ahilleas Kouremenos / Cooperating Journalists: Petros Yiotis, Aggelos Athanasopoulos /Versions in Arabic and English by Shadi Ayubi and Danae Livada respectively.
A Small Planet production for Al Jazeera Satellite Network © 2009 / World Sales: Anastasia Skoubri info(at)smallplanet.gr