Sunday, July 24, 2005

The Zoo

Hands up if you know how many zoos there are in the West Bank? Double points if you can name the town it is in. The town of Qalqiliya is one of those real life situations that you would think was impossible if you read about it in a novel. The town with a zoo that is itself a cage, surrounded by a wall (pdf). A situation taylor-made for a documentary maker and kiwi Hayden Campbell takes advantage.

Everyone plays their part. The star is zoo vet Dr Sami Khader, with a variety of animal co-stars, some alive and some, like the teargassed zebras, are stuffed. Dr Sami is almost irrationally happy (though his humour tinged with sarcasm) in the face of the situation that he is in. Other players include the zoo's visitors, truck drivers, and a wide variety of Israeli soldiers from the incomprehensibly obstreperous, the curious, the bored, the macho clown, the defensive, the american-israeli and even a helpful soldier. The film is interspersed with an interview with an Israeli zoo vet friend of Dr Sami.

The story that holds this all together is Dr Sami's trip to Nablus (about 35km away) to pick up a couple of baboons and return to the zoo. It takes 2 days to complete the trip and involves two trucks, an ambulance, a taxi, red tape, subterfuge, numerous cellphone calls, lots of pleading and begging, luck, three languages, and the use of a white man with a video camera to embarrass soldiers into being slightly more accommodating. All in all a well told view of life for 4,000,000 Palestinians.

Ian's rating 4/5
Anne's rating 4/5

1 comment:

  1. J Bingham9:04 pm

    Wait a minute. Are you telling me the west bank isnt a zoo?