Research has proven that sound is closely tied to memory. Alive Inside, a documentary made by Dan Cohen, experimented with music as a platform for memory triggers for Alzheimer’s patients. The music played was at some point familiar to the patients, and allowed them to reconnect to memories seemingly and subconsciously forgotten due to their disease. Music has the remarkable ability to remind us of experiences we may have forgotten, buried deep within a subconscious realm. Ziad Foty, a Palestinian-American understood this, and yearned to create a poignant, music-inspired documentary about his father, Fuad Foty who finally returned to the West Bank after 40 years away.
Return to Ramallah narrates as Fuad, a musician who currently resides in Washington DC, finally revisits his native Palestine in June 2014. His story, which will resonate with the many Palestinians who left their home, began shortly after the 1967 war, when his family uprooted to the US. The Oud, a key instrument in Arabic music, functioned as a form of emotional coping for Fuad; a way to process the acute violence he witnessed as a young adolescent. Through his music, Fuad expresses a distinct sense of pride and connection to his homeland that, despite the years and miles that separated him, remained intact.
To help fund the documentary’s various travel and crew expenses, Ziad created a crowdfunding campaign in 2014. An eloquently told, poignant story of that ethereal feeling of disconnected belonging, the documentary also weaves in the journey of countless other Palestinians who, like Fuad, left their country behind, only to return years later to a much different place.