A Disturbed Earth is a documentary about a small Galilean village invaded by Jewish Zionist militias during the olive harvest of 1948. Outnumbered and outgunned, the people were unable to protect their village from invasion. Over seventy men were lined up in front of an ancient limestone wall blindfolded and gunned down, their families as witness. The survivors were forced to seek refuge over the border in Lebanon where many still live today in refugee camps.
A Disturbed Earth reverses the journey back to the village. Fouad now lives in Australia. He is a father, grandfather, poet and survivor of the massacre. Accompanied by his filmmaker daughter and a small crew, Fouad travels across three continents through refugee camps and militarised borders. The group attempt to return to the destroyed village to reveal and document its destruction. What follows is a story about dispossession, memory and longing – a story buried under the breathing rubble of a village for almost seventy years.
Each location of the documentary will become one of its characters. While Fouad returns to the camp he grew up in, the camp itself with its surreal contradictions, architecture, colours, and special sound-scape determine the visual and sonic form of the film. The cracks of tired and weary windows become the fatigued exhale of the camp. The dirt ground transforms a voice speaking in dialect, evoking the image of trembling dust that swirls around the foot of a person lined up against a wall, waiting to be murdered.
The film’s pace is informed by the way forced exile creates lives capable of living across multiple times, forced to remember and to dream while awake. A Disturbed Earth will explore this dreamscape using a style informed and inspired by the creative expressions of the people whose story it tells. Exile and struggle often create visual and auditory/sonic brilliance. Poetry, music and other art forms will be woven throughout the film.
Story sharing is an organic continuum of oral history traditions and in this spirit the interviews will not be filmed in traditional talking head set up. The interviews themselves will be a form of poetry, taking us back into the village over steel fortified and locked borders. They tell of life in the village before the invasion and help us get to know some of the people killed in the attack, such as Mahmoud Zaghmout, Galilee’s best-known singer of the time.
A Disturbed Earth creates historical archive out of the everyday. Here a village folk song, remains of an oil jar or a wedding scarf hastily packed in the bosom of a woman during the flight from home serve as historical document alongside more official and recognised sources. Archival materials help to gather fragments of the story and give it cinematic form.