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Freedom Flotilla survivor opens up on documentary

Freedom Flotilla survivor turned filmmaker talks about his documentary at FIFF.

Veteran activist turned filmmaker Rifat Audeh, whose documentary ‘The Truth: Lost at Sea’ is contending at the 37th annual Fajr International Film Festival (FIFF), spoke about his documentary on the fifth day of the festival in Tehran.

The documentary is currently screening in the ‘Docs in Focus’ and ‘Olive Branches’ section of the festival’s 37th annual event.

Audeh’s documentary chronicles the 2010 Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla, a convoy of humanitarian ships which sought to highlight Palestinian’s suffering in Gaza and break the barbaric siege on the city.

The Palestinian-Canadian director who witnessed the account firsthand, utilized footage shot from aboard the Freedom Flotilla, depicting how the dead activists and their companions were portrayed, what really happened, and how the story was spun in conventional media outlets.

On where the idea for the documentary originated, the director who was filming their journey to Gaza while on the Mavi Marmara ship in 2010 said, “I thought we would reach Gaza however unfortunately we were attacked by the Israeli army and everything changed. Then the idea for the documentary came and the goal was to expose Israeli propaganda machine after the attack.”

The director who hadn’t experienced filmmaking prior to the incident was in the process of filming with his personal camera when they were attacked by Israeli soldiers.

“After they attacked us and sent us to prison they confiscated our telephones, cameras, and audio recordings equipment. I had to improvise and collect footages from different sources to make this film. The Israeli army didn’t want anybody in the world to see what they had done. They didn’t want anyone to see their crimes,” recalled Audeh.

On the sources he used, the director mentioned being able to smuggle some footage that the Israelis couldn’t find, along with footage that was broadcasted live on television during the attack. Audeh also mentioned using footage from the internet, other documentaries, and news clips from Iranian media outlet Press TV.

‘The Truth: Lost at Sea’ which has screened in various festivals, libraries, and universities across the world has been well-received by audiences and critics alike.

On world media coverage of Palestinian human rights violations, Audeh said, “Unfortunately, I don’t think they are doing enough to shed light on Palestinian sufferings. They should do more. That’s because many cannot travel to Palestine to document the realities over there. Also, many countries and festivals don’t have the guts to show the Israeli atrocities. Israeli lobbies are very powerful there. They never allow that to happen. If you show a movie about Israel and what it is doing to Palestinians, you will be labeled as anti-Semitic. The consequences are immense. However, there are some Palestinian filmmakers who have succeeded in making and showing such violations to the outside world.”

Headed by Iranian filmmaker Reza Mirkarimi, the 37th Fajr International Film Festival will run in the capital, Tehran, until April 26.

A national version of the festival kicked off on January 30 and wrapped up on February 11.

Since its establishment in 1982, the festival has played a vital role in the development of Iranian Cinema.