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Gaza's Deadliest Days | Close Up

Entered in Long Form Video

Objective

In October 2023, Close Up filmed Palestinian photojournalist, Muhammad Qndeel, as he documented the impact of Israel’s assault on Gaza. Our objective was to witness the early days of the conflict through the eyes of someone chronicling it- and the impact it was having on civilians. Qndeel, who covered five conflicts in the region, had never witnessed violence on such a scale. Within the first week of the war, he lost three of his colleagues.

Our short film was published nine days after the October 7th attacks, just as online viewership of the Israel - Gaza conflict was on the rise. By the time we started production, thousands of videos showing bombs exploding and people dying had flooded the internet but in-depth content that had a personal storyline woven beneath it, hadn’t been produced. When our film came out, it felt raw and urgent. Through our main character and his work, our audience observed devastation, despair, and the remarkable resilience of the people of Gaza, even in the face of imminent death.

Strategy

Upon learning of the October 7th attacks and the ensuing military offensive in Gaza, we knew we had to capture the impact of Israel’s assault on the enclave. Global news outlets were focused on the aftermath of the attacks in Israel, yet Gaza was in the shadows.

Connecting with local filmmakers was challenging, as many had lost family members and were apprehensive about undertaking such a project. Eventually, we identified a filmmaker who was willing to brave the chaos and danger of reporting from Gaza. Through our local contact, we secured a photojournalist who agreed to be filmed for several days.

Our filmmaker not only risked his life to tell the story, but overcame daily obstacles while filming the piece, including finding a location where he could transfer footage out to us. 

Just before power was cut off to the entire Gaza strip, he found a gas station that still had reliable connectivity and delivered the material. Upon receiving the footage, our team began working in post-production. The images our filmmaker captured were haunting, revealing widespread devastation and an overwhelming sense of fear, but our team was determined to bring forth Qndeel’s story and shine a light on the suffering of an entire population.

Results

The film's success lies in its simplicity. It offers a firsthand perspective of Gaza through the eyes of a local photojournalist. Qndeel juggles professional and personal duties as he documents the aftermath of Israel's  attacks on Gaza's infrastructure and civilians.

In under 5 minutes, the film shows the photojournalists' growing concerns for his and his family’s safety, a reality that was shared by millions of Gazans. By giving us access to the conflict through his lens, Qndeel is allowing viewers to witness the devastation and desperation in Gaza in a raw and unfiltered manner.

Once published, the film quickly garnered over 4,5 million views across Al Jazeera’s online platforms. The high engagement turned the piece into Close Up’s first film to hit the million view mark within a day of its publication. Its impact even extended to Al Jazeera Television news, where it was featured as a headline story portraying the overwhelming reality Gazans faced at the onset of months-long bombardment. 

The film succeeded in capturing the audience’s attention among the wave of information that was flooding the web, proving that audiences are interested in raw human stories of ordinary people at critical juncture in newsworthy moments in history.

 

Media

Video for Gaza's Deadliest Days | Close Up

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Al Jazeera Digital

Links