Still Humans

The video above is an excerpt from a work in progress that will also be part of my MFA graduate thesis project.

As you know, I have been enrolled in a graduate program for Interdisciplinary Arts and Media at Columbia College in Chicago since Fall 2012. It is finally coming to an end, and I have one more semester before I graduate in May 2014. For my thesis, I will be filming the life and struggles of my family and others in my small village Beit Hanoun on the north borders of Gaza Strip.

Recently the situation has been extremely difficult in Gaza Strip. There has been a lack of day-to-day basic human needs and the blockade keeps closing its teeth more, allowing less and less assistance. There is no gas and no electricity for at least 12 hours a day, and when the electricity is on, there is no water. Perhaps worst of all is the constant threat from drones, which are flying over the Gaza Strip 24/7. Like many families, my family has been struggling to maintain patience in this situation.

I had previously planned to postpone the filming of my project, but am feeling a great sense of responsibility to go now to offer my help and support to my family and bring back stories and footage of people in my village.

I'm leaving on December 25th and will be there for a month. In order for me to accomplish this project I need your help. I'm raising money to cover the costs of my travel expenses and equipment rentals.

Here is a brief run down of the budget

Travel costs: Round Trip Flight from Chicago to Cairo will be about $1300.
Equipment: I'm looking into using low budget lighting techniques such as flash lights, and other alternative lighting sources.
I also need to rent a descent camera, lens, sound equipment for the month I'm spending there.I looked into local places in Gaza Strip and found that the cost of these and other production materials will be around 500.
Communications and transportations costs is about $200.

Thank you for your generosity and support to this cause. It's deeply appreciated. Here is a project description in which I go more in depth about my concept and intentions.

"Still Humans"
Project description:

"Still Humans" is an investigative documentation of the psychological, cultural and economic wounds from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The microcosm for this aftermath is found in Beit Hanoun, a small village on the northeastern corner of the Gaza Strip near the Israeli borders. This once peaceful agricultural town has been under hundreds of military invasions between 2000 and 2010, thus crippling the agrarian economy, family farming traditions, and the bodies of the villagers in the process. The town is relentlessly exposed to drone aircrafts, missiles and even endured illegalized white phosphoric weapons in the 2009 Gaza Massacre.

"Still Humans" will give voice to these landscapes. I plan to travel to Beit Hanoun on December 25th for a month. I will be photographing and conducting video interviews with the farmers and families that comprise this now-fragile economic network. The winter season is a difficult season especially with the lack of electricity, water and gas due to the blockade.

My goal is to assemble a wide array of perspectives on the state of the land due to the befallen warfare. The work of the farmer is intrinsically linked to the physical, economic, and cultural well-being of the area"”when such a foundation is upended, the very identity of the region is compromised. The imperative of the Israeli occupation has been to dehumanize us and to erase the culture of Beit Hanoun and its resources. "Still Humans" will be a countervailing force that will record and preserve the identity of the village in this political turmoil.

This mission of preservation is personally resonant because Beit Hanoun is my home village. The physical and psychological tolls of the war machine are heavy on my fellow villagers. "Still Humans" will be their story of perseverance and hope in these desperate times. As I document the devastated lives of these people, I am capturing my own culture and lineage. Though I have left the landscape of my subjects, my focus and body of work cultivated in the U.S. have strengthened my resolve to return and honor my heritage.

"Still Humans" is a vow to the land I left behind"”a project to spur international awareness of this tragedy as a means of political and social discourse. I know that my work alone will not create the change that Beit Hanoun needs. However, it is a beginning, and all changes must have a beginning.
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Ahmad Hamad 
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