A Disturbed Earth is a documentary about a small Galilean village invaded by European militias during the olive harvest of 1948. Outnumbered and outgunned, the people were unable to protect their village from invasion.
Over seventy men and boys were forced to line up across an ancient limestone wall, blindfolded and executed. The survivors were driven across the border to Lebanon, where many still live today in refugee camps. A Disturbed Earth, both as documentary film and research project, reverses the journey.
Fouad now lives in Australia. He is a father, grandfather, poet and survivor of the massacre. Accompanied by his filmmaker daughter Rihab and a small crew, Fouad travels across three continents through refugee camps and militarised borders. The group attempt to return to the destroyed village.
With a small investigative team, A Disturbed Earth seeks to bring together the fragmented pieces of an historical event, through various archival methods, including the memories of survivors. Israeli and British military archives are explored and surviving traces of indigenous life in the village prior to invasion are documented.
What follows is a story about dispossession, memory and longing – a story buried, but waiting, under the breathing rubble of a village.
Our fundraising efforts so far have been diverse: we have used our personal incomes and resources, and have also been supported by many members of the Palestinian diaspora and supporters of Palestinian rights. Our project seeks philanthropic support because it is driven by the need for healing. This has been denied to so many Palestinians, as individuals, and as a collective nation.
At the forefront of our film are the long-term refuges exiled in camps since 1948 onwards. Philanthropic minded people understand that “long-term refuge” is not just a descriptive term, but comes with the accompanying realities of structural and generational poverty and the absence of basic infrastructure and resources in health and medicine, land and food provision, education, culture, play, movement and even breath. The film aims to provide a deeper insight into the lived experiences of Palestinian refugees and the ongoing trauma of dispossession.
Cinema has always played a social and historical role. We hope to join the legacy of the many cultural and artistic creations of Palestinians both in Palestine and in exile, many of which created new artistic directions in the Arab world. A Disturbed Earth aims to understand and cinematically narrate the connections between massacre and its legacy, taking as its poetic beginning the forms and contents of restless lives, landscapes and neighbourhoods; and stubborn, surviving memories.
Aims & Objectives
We aim to contribute to the body of knowledge about what happened during the Nakba of 1948 with a thorough and compelling investigation. There are a significant amount of oral histories generated by researchers and activists. Our project brings a detailed focus on one village; and one of the over 70 documented massacres by Zionist militias in the Galilee area.
We aim to express the narratives we are researching outside the conventional frames of colonial discourses, and the "history wars" of 1948.
We hope to create a vigorous and poetic documentary film that will do justice to the memory narratives people have shared with us.
We hope to access previously inaccessible archives: and to challenge the restrictions and limitations imposed on Palestinian narratives.
We aim to make the information generated and the film widely available to refugee communities across the diaspora: they are the custodians of the new knowledge created and our work must remain accountable to them.
We plan to distribute the film to audiences most affected by its story. We have contacts with educational and cultural organisations that can help with this process across the refugee camps of the Middle East. We also have personal contacts through family and friends who can facilitate independent screenings among different neighbourhoods of different refugee camps in Lebanon.
We are forming partnerships with media and film institutions, such as international film festivals, production and distribution houses, and artist collectives.
The oral history archives created will be shared with a centralised archive at the American University of Beirut.
With the help of committed Israeli and Palestinian friends, we will attempt to distribute the film among Israeli communities.
A Disturbed Earth will broadly appeal to indigenous peoples and others whose perspectives and movements have always included a need to unearth alternative historical accounts. So far connections have been made with indigenous artists and activists in Australia.
At a later stage, we also aim to publish journal articles and a blog as strategies to share knowledge generated with wider audiences.