A passion for documentaries

NOV 30 — Shooting documentaries in the Middle-East isn’t for the faint-hearted; there is the harsh natural environment and, of course, the volatile political situation in the region.

Still, I find myself in the region (as I have many times before) shooting a documentary about the Arab Spring. My first stop is Cairo, Egypt.

The first day I arrive and start shooting, a piece of broken concrete thrown by the police hits a protestor standing literally right next to me.

His injured and unconscious body was carried to safety by fellow protestors while I stood there thinking that three feet of empty space was what kept me safe.

Things don’t always go as planned either.

As much as I want to be macho and shoot a documentary about conflict and violence, I also want to shoot people’s ordinary lives.

Being in Cairo, I wanted to see how life has changed for the Egyptians after their grand revolution in 2011 which changed the only way of life they have known for decades.

But it was near to impossible getting people to talk about their lives in this current time in their country when they feel such anger.

Everyone just wants to vent his or her anger over the authorities or over nothing in particular. Everyone just wants to scream, chant and throw rocks.

Nobody seemed interested in talking about their daily lives. I can’t even count the times people pulled my camera to face them so they could scream into the lens.

Oh well. That’s how it goes. I’ve got another week plus to go and the other planned stops are Gaza in Palestine, and Tunis, Tunisia.

I’ve already cancelled my stop in Damascus as the war has taken a turn for the worst in Syria and some journalists I really respect advised me to think twice.

As it is, I am already delayed by two days for Gaza as approval to cross the border in Rafah is still pending. Another couple of days and I might have to strike it off too.

But that’s the joy of making documentaries like this. It is organic and everything depends on what happens on the ground.

I used to travel weeks and even months on end shooting my documentaries, and enjoyed every minute. But things are slightly different now.

I have the best daughter and wife in the world and being away from them just tears my heart apart. But it is also a motivation for me to continuing doing it.

But I’m still enjoying every minute of it!

* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.



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