MAP, Health Under Occupation

Medical Aid for Palestinians, (MAP), is a charity which works for the health and dignity of Palestinians, living in Lebanon and the occupied Palestinian territories. I produced, directed and edited this film for Canvas Films, who were commisioned  to produce a feature-length documentary, featuring comedians Jeremy Hardy and Imran Yusuf, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Israel’s occupation of Palestine. The 30-minute documentary, filmed across the West Bank in early 2017, followed Jeremy and Imran as they explored the full impact of occupation on the lives and, particularly, health of Palestinians.

The film explores the wider impact of occupation on the lives, health, and access to medical services of Palestinians; from the challenges faced by ambulance crews delayed at checkpoints, to apartheid-like conditions of life in cities such as Hebron.

The documentary was shot by myself and a local sound-man. The project included production of a feature-length, 30 minute documentary, as well as four 3-4 minute short-form films.

On our last day of filming, the crew came across a 6 month old baby, Maryam, in a hospital in East Jerusalem. Maryam was born prematurely, with difficulties, and had to spend the first few weeks of her life in intensive care. Her mother, from Gaza, had to travel back home. Her family was unable to receive a permit from the Israeli government to visit her or, when critical care was no longer needed, collect her from the hospital. She was separated from her mother for more than five months. Thanks to MAP’s Campaigns Team, Maryam’s story hit the headlines, after which Israel allowed Maryam’s family to travel to collect her. More than 280 people in the UK also contacted their MPs to call for action to remove the barriers to the movement of patients and companions. Here is a short film telling her remarkable story.

“In a difficult year for Palestinians, we wanted to use the power of documentary film-making and the profile of some of Medical Aid for Palestinians’ celebrity supporters to draw attention to the impact of 50 years of military occupation on health and everyday life in the occupied Palestinian territory. James and Canvas Films supported us at every step of the process, leading us through planning, a successful filming visit, and being ever-helpful and flexible when it came to editing. The resulting ‘Health Under Occupation’ film, which followed British comedians Jeremy Hardy and Imran Yusuf on their visit to the West Bank with MAP, has helped us reach out to new audiences to build support for MAP’s work and cause, and driven online supporters to engage with our campaigning work too. Canvas Films showed creativity and sensitivity to a difficult subject matter throughout, and we are delighted to have gone on to work with them on new film projects, including event filming and animations!”

Rohan Talbot 

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