Ahmad Habash’s new short film, The Well (Al-Bier) is deceptively simple, portrays a fleeting moment in the turbulent 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Three generations of males — a young man and his son and an elderly hajj — find themselves running for their lives, seeking refuge from an unseen and unnamed threat in the rolling Palestinian countryside.
Their sanctuary is a well that is the stuff of local legend. The hajj begins to tell the young man and his son the tale of the magic well. But there is no fairy tale ending for the trio, who get a taste of the humiliation and defeat of the Nakba or catastrophe to come.
This quietly beautiful film showcases the Palestinian landscape, and Habash lets his camera linger on the crawling spiders, turtles and ants that go about their own pace as history is made all around them.
Ahmad Habash is a Palestinian filmmaker, animator and artist who was born in Iraq and now lives in New Zealand. His haunting, award-winning short film Flee, in which sand is used as a medium for animation, is not to be missed. Habash also directed and animated Fatenah, a short film based on the true story of a young woman in Gaza whose access to medical treatment is thwarted by Israel’s cruel siege.