Animation in Gaza

New Palestinian animated film tells of woman's struggle with breast cancer.

fatenah 63 (photo credit: )
fatenah 63
(photo credit: )
Fatenah is the first major attempt at a commercial animated film produced in the Palestinian territories. The film follows the story of a Palestinian woman's battle with cancer and her unsuccessful attempts to be treated, both in Gaza and Israel. The 30-minute film is inspired by the true story of Fatma Bargouth, who died of breast cancer in Gaza in 2004. In 2003, Bargouth discovered a lump in her breast and visited a number of doctors within Gaza. Inexperienced doctors prescribed her antibiotics, told her she needed to get married and have children and that it was caused by wearing a bra that was too tight. Finally having received the correct diagnosis, and after receiving unsuccessful chemotherapy in Gaza, she independently sent information about her condition to staff at Tel Hashomer Hospital in Tel Aviv. They immediately summoned her to the hospital to be treated. However, she was then to face further obstacles in her attempt to be treated. Often failing security checks, she missed hospital appointments. On another occasion, military activity prevented her from gaining access to the Erez crossing. In one highly dramatic scene in the film, Fatenah is stopped at a security checkpoint where Israeli soldiers using a body scanner notice something in her chest. In front of a female soldier, she undresses to reveal her bare chest, a result of the double mastectomy necessary to prevent the spread of her cancer. The scanner had picked up her silicone breast implants. The case was documented in a 2005 report by the Physicians for Human Rights - Israel organization. Ahmad Habash, director of animation, says the film is "Not about taking sides; in reality, there are good and bad people on both sides, it's a human issue." Producer Saed Andoni said he chose the animation format because he wanted to "present the story in a new style that would go through the character's dreams and fantasies." He was also unable to film a conventional movie in its true setting due to security restrictions on West Bank residents entering Gaza. A premiere screening of the film was shown in Ramallah and it is currently being submitted to the Venice, Toronto and Dubai film festivals. Andoni and Habash would both like to see it released in Israel, following these festivals. The film cost $60,000 to produce, a remarkably small figure for an animated film. The majority of the funding came from the World Health Organization, along with some smaller private donations. The IDF had no response to the film's release.