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WATCH: Kids In Gaza Take On A World Record With String, Glue, And Paper

When we fly kites, we know that freedom exists,” says Widad, one of the child heroes of “Flying Paper”. The documentary, which was screened at UN headquarters on May 21, follows several young kite-makers from Gaza as they try to break the world record for the most kites flown at one time.

The film was made in collaboration with its subjects, including Hamad, an 11-year-old cameraman, and 16-year-old co-producer Abeer Ahmed, an aspiring journalist and resident of Jabaliya, Gaza’s largest refugee camp. By focusing on their agency, “Flying Paper” offers a fresh vision of life under occupation that does justice to Gazans’ humor and creativity in the face of extreme constraint.

Through delicate visual poetry, the kites become metaphors for the children’s aspirations—and for the fragility of life itself. Scenes that cut from a shot of a kite tangled and torn on a wire barrier to the mangled forms of houses destroyed by aerial bombardment clearly illustrate Gazans’ vulnerability, while animated segues take the edge off the hard reality with their fairy-tale sense of play.

“We tried to make a balance [between positive and negative elements],” says director Nitin Sawhney, “and to make it harmonize.” Without giving away the ending, it’s fair to say that the film achieves that balance beautifully–and that the sight of 7,202 kites soaring above the sea is not to be missed.

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Jennifer MacKenzie

Poet, writer and teacher Jennifer MacKenzie grew up on Bloomcrest Dr. in Bloomfield Hills, MI, which inspired her to wonder about places with patterns other than floral. Following her education at Wesleyan University's College of Letters and the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop, she followed a zig-zag course that included a pilgrimage across the top of Spain and a long sojourn in Syria in pursuit of the language of Muhammad al-Maghout and Moudthaffar al-Nawwab. While in Damascus she completed the books of poems "Distant City" and "My Not-My Soldier" (forthcoming from Fence Books) and edited the magazine Syria Today. Her poems and essays can be found in numerous journals including the Kenyon Review online, Guernica, Quarterly West, and Lungfull. She currently lives in New York.

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