Fady Hanona and Ali Aby Yaseen desperately trying to make it to the U.S. premiere
Fady Hanouna has been trying to get to the Sundance Film Festival from his home in Gaza. (Courtesy Fady Hanouna)
Two “honest, hard-working family men” from Gaza have helped bring the plight of the Palestinian people to the largest independent film festival in the United States but, in an ironic twist, they can’t get there themselves.
Fady Hanouna and Ali Aby Yaseen have tried for months to get the necessary documentation and visas approved to accompany the film they worked on for four years to its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.
But the duo can’t break free of the very thing they’ve been railing against in the new documentary; they can’t get out of Gaza to get to its premiere.
The border between Gaza and Egypt is closed, with no indication of when it will reopen.
Hanouna, 30, a production manager on the film, and Yaseen, who features in the film, were scheduled to travel to Cairo for their visa interviews on January 21. They were supposed to fly out for the US on January 24.
A week has now passed and there has been no change in Gaza. Alongside thousands of others desperate to cross the border, they wait.
“I don’t know why Israel closes the border from the north … Egypt is closing the border from the south, and from the west there is the sea. And from the east there are Israeli snipers,” a frustrated Hanouna told The National. “It is my right to travel and it is my right to get a job and it is my right to live a decent life. It is my right to feel safe with my children and my family.”
The US Embassy in Cairo has told the two men they could “be flexible” with their visa interviews if they arrived in the city soon, Hanouna says. However, the movie premieres at Sundance today and the border remains closed.