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Access Denied

2005 | 30mins | Colour
By Mieke Bal, Thomas Sykora & Gary Ward

Genre: Documentary
Multi-lingual with English subtitles

Where you come from decides where you’re allowed to go
Ihab (31), a Palestinian academic living in Amsterdam, is preparing to travel to visit his family in Gaza for the first time in four years, and do some fieldwork. Gary (28), an Irish artist also living in Amsterdam, intends to accompany Ihab and film the reunion with his family, the interviews with informants, and the progress of Ihab’s project: to study the cultural memory in Palestine of al nakba, the catastrophe of 1948. While they prepare for the trip, Ihab and Gary become closer. But, once they arrive in Cairo airport, Ihab’s arrest and deportation separates the two.

From here on, the film alternates vistas of the two men’s trip. While Ihab conducts his research with determination and commitment, Gary is flooded by his first encounter with Arabic culture. He turns around in circles, having nothing to do but wait until he can fly back to Amsterdam. Ihab, in contrast, works frantically, but cannot leave on the planned date, since Israel has closed the borders.

The film uses the metaphors of travel and failed encounters for a meditative reflection on the intercultural encounter between Arabic and Western individuals eager, but not always able, to understand each other.

12 euro for the DVD and please add 8 euro for shipping

To acquire a DVD, you can make a donation to my current film project. You then send an e-mail to with the address where you wish the DVD to be sent. Please also include the details of your transfer (bank account no., name and date of transfer).

M.G. Bal
IBAN: NL85ABNA0949591297

Gustav Mahlerlaan 10
1082 PP Amsterdam
The Netherlands

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