In the spring of 1994, Palestian writer and journalist, Daoud Kuttab, got in touch to ask me to work on a course for Palestinian young people from the West Bank and Gaza to teach them to make documentary films and news reports. This happened after the Oslo Agreement when there was a spirit of optimism and hope. We held our first sessions in the Hakawati Theatre in East Jerusalem. We were three trainers – myself, my colleague Maysoon Pachachi, a film director and editor from London and Omar Al Aidi, a cameraman from Paris.
This was my first training course and it was to be followed by many others in Palestine in directing, photography, lighting technique, sound and editing for film and television in many cities (such as Jerusalem, Ramallah, Gaza, Birzeit, and Nablus). In 2003, with the occupation of Iraq by the Bush administration and the coalition forces, my colleague Maysoon Pachachi and I transferred our teaching from the occupied West Bank to occupied Iraq. We established a free-of-charge film school in Baghdad offering short intensive courses in filmmaking.
Our work for nearly ten years teaching intensive courses in the West Bank and Gaza allowed us to understand intimately the human crisis the Palestinians were living and the huge problems from which they suffered as a result of the politics of oppression and economic blockade, the confiscation of land and construction of settlements, the deterioration of the quality of life caused by the building barriers which destroyed communication between the towns and villages of Palestine.
The horrible violations of human rights in the West Bank were reflected in my short documentary film, “Surda Checkpoint,” (2005), and the first story of my long documentary, “Whisper of the Cities” (2013).
Today I look at the names of people I have trained and see that some of them are now at the forefront of the Palestinian filmmaking and the media – people such as Shourouk Al Asaad Saed Andoni, Nidhal Abu Deeb, Darwish Abu Rish, Majdi Banoura, Yusuf Shomali, Shireen Khalidi and Raed Al Helou – then I feel proud.
Documentary Course with Jerusalem Film Institute-1994
Film & TV Direction Gaza 1995
Documentary course with Institute of Modern Media in Al-Bireh, 1998
Documentary programmes at Birzeit University 2002
Camera and lights workshop in Nablis 2003
TV camera & lights workshop-Beit Lahm TV 2003