Young Freud in Gaza
Directed by Pe¢ Holmquist and Suzanne Khardalian
Icarus Films, 2008
“Young Freud in Gaza” presents an often forgotten human dimension to Palestinian suffering and the trauma of living under Israeli occupation. Through the therapy sessions of a young psychologist, Ayad, who works for the Palestinian Authority’s Clinic for Mental Health, the filmmakers delve into a psychological level in the society that is often forgotten. The effects left on a young girl who has seen a dead girl outside her school are explored, children who have lost a sibling in the ravages of war, a mother who has seen her son die in a car explosion before her very eyes, a survivor of a suicide mission, and the list goes on. As Ayad teaches breathing exercises to calm anxiety, meditation techniques, and encourages the expression of emotions, a whole range of psychological trauma comes out into the open. The film adeptly shows that most of these people who are suffering have never been asked to express themselves, and thus have left the trauma bottled up inside.
An older man points to the balloon in the air of Gaza, which monitors Palestinians 24 hours a day, breaking the everyday life of the Palestinians. The effects of Israeli missile attacks in 2006 in which houses were bombed is vividly portrayed. However, this is a fair-minded film depicting not only trauma caused by Israeli occupation, but also needless bloodshed caused by Hamas – Fatah clashes.
Dr. Ayub, who had always thought Palestinians would be fighting Israelis, not their own people, expresses his own sadness and how he fears he will not be able to help his own people. He dreams of the day Palestinian children can be free, to live the childhood of real children. “We don’t have an enjoyable life. Life hasn’t been easy,” he says, breathing a deep sigh, reinforcing his acknowledgement that living under occupation has caused Gaza to need a million psychologists.
This review appears in Al Jadid, Vol. 15, no. 60 (2009)
Copyright (c) 2009 by Al Jadid