WINNER BEST LONDON DOCUMENTARY CHEAP CUTS FESTIVAL 2016: A RUNNING OCCUPATION

What does it feel like to be a prisoner in your own home? To be unable to live freely in the land given to you. To be able to walk around and yet unable to walk anywhere. Ask those living in Palestine today, and they might be able to tell you.

“Everyone has the right to move, but not everybody has the freedom of movement”

On 24th April 2016 almost 40,000 people gathered in Greenwich Park to start on the 26.2 mile/42 kilometre journey to complete the London Marathon. Taking in London’s grandeur as runners cross Tower Bridge, pace down the Thames, past St Paul’s and eventual complete their journey on The Mall. It’s a similar story in countries all around the world where marathons take place. This is not, however, the story for Palestine. A RUNNING OCCUPATION follows a group of people hoping to tell a different tale, to send a message to the outside world that Palestinian people simple do not have enough space. We see the Right to Movement campaign as it prepares for the upcoming marathon in Palestine. Right to Movement is a global running community running for the basic human right to freedom of movement. They are not a charity, they are not asking for your money simply your involvement – your action. Born in 2013, this movement came about in parallel with the first Palestine Marathon “to promote the basic human right to freedom of movement as stipulated under Article 13 in the Human Rights Charter – and to tell a new story about Palestine.”

RIGHT TO MOVEMENT MANIFESTO:

We call on runners of all levels.
We run to manifest our Right to Movement.
We run for those and with those who are deprived of that right.
We run to tell stories.
We run to build bridges instead of walls.
We run to inspire you to do the same.

The Palestine Marathon is unlike any marathon you or I may know, with so little space attributed to the Palestinian the 42 kilometre race has to be completed in four 10 kilometre laps. They simply do not have enough land, and even with the small space they are given much of it is under Israeli control. This feeling of imprisonment becomes ever more apparent. Although Right to Movement proclaim their non-politic status, it is hard to take the political away from this message. The voice recordings played over shots of each individual running, of shots of the West Bank wall, seemed to also be recorded whilst running, gave this impressive sense of desperation. Each runner understood the significance of their involvement in the marathon. This was not just about running. Not simply about personal goals but collective freedom. Particular significance was placed around running next to the wall, as a form of silent protest, running through the bucolic hills under Israeli control, and one Hijabi girl running on the streets of Israeli Jerusalem. There is an admiration for these small acts of courage that radiates throughout the entire film.

“I live in a big prison. You can see your friends, your family, be seemingly normal but unable to travel”

Another aim seemed to be regarding changing unpopular opinions of Palestinian people. These people are not terrorists, not misogynists but simply a state crying out for the world to hear them; a group of people trapped in their own narrow surroundings. Keen to emphasise the inclusivity of the movement, last year 800 women ran in the marathon, which was unheard of until that time. Young girls can look at these women as idols , someone to look up to. This is not only intended to spread a message, but to help new people become interested in running; in forming communities and bonds and friendships

Directors Joe Sartorius and Lina Caicedo have done a wonderful job of immersing you in the race environment. Emphasising the notion of involvement, we the audience feel a part of the race, a part of the message. An incredibly poignant and responsive piece and a well deserved winner.

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