One-man documentary team, New Zealander Hayden Campbell shows us the daily scramble of life in the West Bank town of Qalqiliya through the eyes of Palestine’s one and only zookeeper.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2005
One-man documentary team New Zealander Hayden Campbell shows us the daily scramble of life in the West Bank town of Qalqiliya through the eyes of Palestine’s one and only zookeeper–veterinarian-taxidermist, Dr Sami Khader. Just 15 kilometres from Tel Aviv and surrounded by Jewish settlements, Qalqiliya is completely fenced off from the rest of the world by Israel’s new security wall. Like the town itself, the zoo has been hit hard by Israeli army raids and suffered further losses when its zebras succumbed to tear gas during a demonstration at a neighbouring high school. Images of the devastated zoo made international television news and Dr Sami’s determination to keep the park open turned him into a current affairs star for the requisite 15 minutes. Campbell’s goes for the real story, accompanying the voluble and entertaining Dr Sami on a mission to rescue two baboons from a run-down facility in Nablus. The degree of bureaucracy and checkpoint subterfuge entailed turns an already bizarrely symbolic task into a flabbergasting exercise in absurdity. — BG
"The germ of the idea for Hayden Campbell’s self-described ‘animal action adventure documentary’, The Zoo, was planted on Christmas Eve 2000 when his father picked up three Israeli hitchhikers in Picton and invited them to spend Christmas with them in Blenheim. Inspired by his conversations with the Israelis about life in Israel and the West Bank after the outbreak of the second intifada, Campbell quit the Canterbury Fine Arts School halfway through the final year of his film degree in 2002. He then spent the next two years teaching English in Korea as a way of funding his trip to the Middle East…
In April 2004 he travelled to Israel and the West Bank, having purchased a Panasonic DVX 100 camera (‘the only Mini DV camera that could shoot in progressive mode at the time’), Sennheiser shotgun mic, wireless lav set, tripod. And an Apple G4 iBook with Final Cut Pro, which he used to edit the resulting 66 minute doco… At the time Campbell shot he doco, Qalqilya was the first Palestinian town to be completely surrounded by Israel’s ‘security barrier’ and had been effectively closed for a year… ‘The zoo serves as a metaphor for the town which was experiencing massive social and economic losses due to the barrier,’ says Campbell, ‘while Dr Sami represents the average Palestinian just trying to get on with life and do their job in an extremely abnormal situation.’" — Onfilm