2019 Sundance Docs in Focus: GAZA

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Andrew McConnell

Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell present a ground-level, multi-faceted portrait of life in the Palestinian city.

Festival Section:
World Cinema Documentary Competition


Sundance Program Description:

Facing the serene Mediterranean Sea, 17-year-old Karma Khaial stands at the water’s edge and senses freedom. But in Gaza, the sea is yet another wall restricting the lives and dreams of its inhabitants.

This elegantly shot and masterfully crafted portrait of Palestinian life offers a rare chance to be immersed in the heart of Gaza, as we glimpse behind the walls of this misunderstood land to get to know real people who inhabit it. Inside a Gaza City taxi, we meet a teacher, a student, and a barber, who all share their dreams and daily predicaments with the driver, Ahmad, using surprising humor and candor. Ahmad could take them anywhere – except that a decade-old blockade makes it nearly impossible to leave the enclave.

Like its people, Gaza’s landscape feels kaleidoscopic: colorful yet pained, fragile yet resilient, ancient while looking to the future. Memory plays heavy on its consciousness. But life moves in cycles in Gaza, and, in spite of everything, joy and humanity can be found in every corner of this mosaic of life.

Some Background:

  • Garry Keane

    Keane is a multiple Irish Film & Television Academy award-winner who has been making documentaries for TV for over two decades. This is his first project at Sundance.

  • Andrew McConnell

    McConnell, who also serves director of photography, is an Irish-born, Beirut-based photojournalist whose work focuses on displacement and conflict. He makes his film debut with this project.


  • Brendan J Byrne

    This marks the first Sundance credit for the Belfast-based Byrne of Fine Point Films.

  • Paul Cadieux
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE SETTLERS (2016)

    Cadieux also produced fellow 2019 Sundance World Cinema Documentary Competition title ADVOCATE. Among his past producing credits is the Oscar-nominated animated feature THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE.

Executive Producers:

  • Trevor Birney

    This is also the first Sundance credit for the Emmy-nominated Fine Point Films’ founder Birney.

  • Christian Beetz
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE CLEANERS (2018)

    The Gebrueder Beetz Filmproduktion’s CEO also co-produced the Oscar-nominated short OPEN HEART.

  • Maryse Rouillard

    This is the first Sundance credit for the head of Montreal-based Filmoption International.


  • Mick Mahon

    This also marks the IFTA-nominated Mahon’s first Sundance project.

Why You Should Watch:
McConnell has been photographing in Gaza since 2010, giving him a deep familiarity with the place and its people. Joining forces with Keane, he grants viewers the rare opportunity to survey life in the blockaded city through his camera’s lens.

More Info:
Filmmakers’ Vlog: The Long Road to Sundance
Sundance’s Meet the Artists Profile

For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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