Journalist Paul Fischer’s detailed and evocative piece at Hidden Compass profiles Tarzan and Arab, twin brothers from Gaza who make acclaimed feature films after growing up in a place where all the cinemas in their war-torn country closed the year before they were born. To have their first cinema experience at age 24 in 2011, the brothers were smuggled out of Gaza to visit the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin Texas. Tarzan and Arab were eventually forced to flee Gaza from persecution sparked by their trip, deemed blasphemous by the Ministry of Culture. Condom Lead, a film they made in exile, “became the first short film by Gazan filmmakers ever selected in competition at the Cannes Film Festival.”
In 2012 — the year after I first met them, and the year after their brief trip to Austin — Tarzan and Arab fled Gaza. Hamas in Gaza, and Hamas-affiliated militants, had been harassing them and their family for months.
The aggressors were upset at being tricked, both in the making of Colourful Journey and in Tarzan and Arab’s smuggling themselves into Egypt. They were upset at Tarzan and Arab’s flamboyant clothes and public celebration of the movie house, a place the fundamentalists considered little more than a temple to pornography.