“A Bottle in the Gaza Sea” is a 2011 French film written and directed by Thierry Binisti. Set under the backdrop of the 2008-2009 Gaza War, the film follows the experiences of Tal Levine and Naim Al Fardjouki. Tal is a 17-year-old woman who recently emigrated to Israel with her family from France and Naim is a 20-year-old Palestinian man working for his uncle at a dead-end job. The film opens with a bombing that occurs in Tal’s neighborhood resulting in the death of a woman on the day of her wedding. Because of this incident, Tal becomes shaken and is moved to write a letter stating that she refuses to accept that the Israelis and Palestinians can never find peace and to reject the belief promoted by individuals on both sides that violence is the only answer to the conflict. Tal then puts the letter into a bottle, and her brother Eyton throws it into the sea near Gaza where he is stationed to fulfill his military service requirement.
Several weeks later, Naim finds the bottle with the letter while hanging out with a group of friends on a beach near the Gaza Sea. Naim and his friends initially scoff at the letter and its content, but he eventually responds to Tal’s letter via email using the name “Gazaman.” Despite some initial mistrust and suspicion between both, they eventually develop a close relationship that transcends national boundaries and the long-standing conflicts between both Israel and Palestine. Additionally, their relationship serves to give them the strength and will to confront the harsh realities of life within their respective communities and the incentive to push for positive change. The film ends with Naim and Tal attempting to meet each other face-to-face at a checkpoint on the border between Israel and Palestine, but ultimately being separated by the border wall that separates the Israeli and Palestinian territories. Despite the fact Tal and Naim never meet face to face, they both credit theirs knowing each other as ultimately expanding their will for peace and as breaking down the barriers that previously defined their outlook regarding their respective sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“A Bottle in the Gaza Sea” presents an unbiased look at the effects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the individual and shows that both sides have the same hopes and desires. Additionally, the film suggests that the only way to reduce tension between both Israelis and Palestinians is to foster inter-cultural dialogue and highlight shared experiences. “A Bottle in the Gaza Sea” focuses on the human costs of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the hardships created by the conflict. For example, the residents of Israel are depicted as living in a constant state of fear because of the nature of the conflict and are constantly on edge waiting for an attack within their country. This state of fear has a profound impact on Tal and the actions that she takes in her daily life. For example, while riding on the bus on the way home from school, Tal gets off because she is uncomfortable and suspicious regarding a man who sits across from her with a package. The conflict is also shown to have created a sense of hopelessness and despair within the Palestinian territories. For example, many of the residents of the Palestinian territories including Naim have little opportunity to seek a better life. This theme of hopelessness is further shown when Naim is harassed and discouraged by his family members for attempting to continue his education and better himself.