University of Alaska Anchorage’s CAMERA supported group, Students United, screened Bottle in the Gaza Sea. Since its release in 2011, the film has received praise, including winning the Audience Award and the Young Jury Award for Best Actor at the Reunion Island Film Festival. The film takes a very human and honest look at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A girl living in Israel befriends a young man from Gaza. Their friendship is chronicled, as well as the daily struggles they both face.
“Tal is 17 years old. Naim is 20. She’s Israeli. He’s Palestinian. She lives in Jerusalem. He lives in Gaza. They were born in a land of scorched earth, where fathers bury their children. They must endure an explosive situation that is not of their choosing at an age where young people are falling in love and taking their place in adult life. A bottle thrown in the sea and a correspondence by email nurture the slender hope that their relationship might give them the strength to confront this harsh reality to grapple with it, and thereby ever so slightly change it. Only 60 miles separate them but how many bombings, check-points, sleepless nights and bloodstained days stand between them?” reads the synopsis by IMBD.
A diverse group of people ranging from their teens to late 50s, the audience was intrigued by the story and the conflicts both protagonists faced. A local high school group brought interesting questions and dialogue to the conversation. The college students were impressed by the activism of their younger counterparts, as well as their concrete understanding of the Middle East.
The relationship seen between the young Gazan boy and Israeli girl presented the conflict in a refreshing light. Their struggles were not disregarded, rather they were emphasized. Through their mutual hurdles, they are able to reach a better understanding of the other side. Overall, viewers enjoyed the film because they saw a new approach to the conflict and saw that there is a great deal of potential for people to get along in the region.