Shurooq Mousa from Deir El-Balah, a few kilometres south of Gaza City, is about to turn 15 years old – and when she does, her life will change.
She is a schoolgirl with ambitions of becoming an architect, and rebuilding houses and hospitals destroyed by bombings. But her family wants her to study medicine instead.
Shurooq spends some of her time wandering the streets with her good friend Mai. But when she turns 15, her family will no longer let her do this. They think she should start wearing the abaya, a more conservative full-body garment. And they want her to consider wearing a niqab.
Shurooq does not mind wearing a hijab, but puts her foot down at anything more.
In 15 in Gaza, we get an insight into the complex negotiations that await Shurooq as she stands on the brink of adulthood.
By Wesam Mousa
It would be an understatement to say that I learned some very important life lessons during the making of this documentary. The subject of the film was my little sister, Shurooq, with a focus on her role within our family and her dreams and aspirations for the future. But this was not an easy project; it made me ask questions, both about myself and the society I live in, and even challenged some of the relationships within my family.
In my film, 15 in Gaza, I follow Shurooq as she tries to break down cultural and gender barriers – barriers that have started to become apparent to her as she reaches her 15th birthday.
Despite the challenges, I really enjoyed making this film and I am grateful to the director of photography, Frank Smith, for travelling all the way from Scotland to Gaza and sharing his skills and experience with our crew.
I have been very fortunate to have a mother who has always supported and encouraged me to do well at work. Without her, I do not think I would have been able to establish myself in the industry so I thank her for all her support. I would also like to thank Aimara Reques and Su Bainbridge at Aconite Productions for making this film possible. I tried my best to achieve the best results and I am very happy that my first film features my little sister as the main character.
By Rana Ayoub
At first, working with material filmed by another director, with a different vision, was a bit of a challenge for me. I was initially brought onto the project to work on the translation of the documentary.
However, this work led me on another, more charming journey, and I ended up getting passionately involved in the structure and the narration of this young girl’s story. I enjoyed every minute of it.
It was fascinating for me to live this story through characters that had very different life perspectives to me. But it was an experience that reminded me of the world’s magical diversity and I am delighted that Shurooq and her family let me in.
By Su Bainbridge
We wanted to make this film to tell the story of Gaza from a young woman’s perspective and to see first-hand her day-to-day life.
We are very grateful to Shurooq and her family for welcoming our team and allowing us to be a part of their lives during the preparations for the teenager’s birthday.
We filmed Shurooq and her family as they prepared for her 15th birthday and as Shurooq reluctantly prepared for impending ‘womanhood’.
Shurooq now looks to the future as she tries to challenge her family’s expectations and to overcome the restrictions she faces. She gives a frank account of her frustrations, hopes and dreams and wonders what the future holds for her, and for other young people living in Gaza.