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The Sun Doesn't Shine in the Camp -  a film
Reviews

From: d
Category: Films
Date: 30 July 2004

Review

The Sun Doesn't Shine in the Camp is a low budget documentary filmed in Balata Refugee Camp, the largest and one of the most deprived communities in the West Bank, Palestine. The film watches like a home video. But it's impact is Hollywood huge. It provides us with a rare glimpse into life in one of the Palestinian refugee camps I have heard a lot about but never seen. The camp looks like a desolate yet cramped, third world town and as the title of the film suggests, the sun don't shine in this vestige of human destruction and abuse. The footage trails through ruins of destroyed homes and families inside the camp. We can see that the Israeli military tanks and soldiers are commonplace in the Balata camp. The unsettling observation is that the children seem to be anaethetised to the fear and terror that most of us would feel in such an environment. The power of this film derives not from sentimentality nor images of death and destruction but from the strength of spirit and determination shown by the Palestinian people despite living under a despotic regime. There is a powerful scene where the Palestinians, out of sheer frustration after a curfew has been imposed, stone an armoured Israeli tank. However, it's difficult to work out what is going through their minds when they do this. Do they have a death wish or is the depth of their despair such that the consequences of their actions don't matter anymore? In any case, what shines through is their relentless self-belief and resolve to live as normal and happy a life as possible in an absurd world.

The Sun Doesn't Shine in the Camp is an important and intelligently made film. And if you miss it at the cinema, you can buy it on DVD for about 6 by emailing Mika at mika@balatacamp.net.

I have been told that the Balata refugee camp, although one of the largest and most hardhit in the West Bank, is largely isolated from the outside world. This film is one project aimed at breaking that isolation and creating a link with the rest of the world. If you are interested in finding out more about the projects in Balata or lending your support in any way to the makers of this film and their desire to create connections between ourselves and the Palestinians in Balata, get in touch with Mika (see above) or see www.balatacamp.net.

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