Tripoli: April 10
The 15 minute film War Zone, entered for a YouTube-sponsored festival, tells the story of a young boy . . .[restrict]caught up in a Qaddafi counter-attack, when he visits Ras Lanouf to help his uncle move away from the fighting.
Fourteen year old Taha Elghanai found himself surrounded by death and destruction as he and his family fled from his uncle’s house to a hospital in the city. There he watched the arrival of the dead and injured. When the hospital itself came under bombardment and patients had to be evacuated, Taha became separated from his uncle’s party.
Fleeing towards the assumed safety of some hills, the boy actually ran into another part of the front line. Rebel fighters told him to shelter in a ruined building where at one point bullets pinged around and a series of poorly aimed missiles exploded harmlessly in the desert outside, showering the building with grit and dust.
For much of his ordeal, Taha kept his video camera recording the destruction and horror around him. The film consists of some of this footage edited into an interview of the boy himself, sitting on a couch back at his home in the United States. There have been plenty of images of the barbarous realities of warfare. If Taha took such shots there are not in this short film.
Instead you have the breathless recollections of a young man brought up on video games, confronting the real thing with a mixture of horror and fascination. He sees Qaddafi mercenary fighters surrender. When one is asked why he is fighting, he replied it was for his country. A rebel fighter retorts angrily that Libya is not his country.
Taha is finally reunited with his family and returns safely to the US, a good fortune many other fourteen year old Libyan kids just like him have not shared.
Having said that this film about Taha includes no gore, it does have two very compelling images. The first is of smiling rebel fighters who stopped Taha and his family as they first approached Ras Lanouf in their car. The travellers gave the young men grapes. The second picture was taken by Taha in the hospital and is of the covered bodies of the same young men. Taha explains that they had been shot in the stomach or chest. However, they all also had gunshot wounds in their head and neck, suggesting that they had been finished off by Qaddafi troops who had overrun their position.
War Zone, edited and produced by Libyan director Mike Taib is a YouTube “ Your Film Festival” entry. This June a global online audience will vote for ten films which will be shown this year’s Venice Film Festival. One of these shorts will go on to win a $500,000 Grand Prize to make a new film in association with director Ridley Scott.
War Zone can be found at http://youtu.be/1583lDbvLXQ