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People of the Land explores the connection the Palestinian people have to land and nature. This collection of short films delves into the ways that occupation affects the environment. Often the actions of an oppressor lead to the destruction of nature, misuse of the land and the limitation of native people's access to the land that they have been stewards of for generations. The films not only highlight this in Palestine but also connect this struggle to that of other indigenous communities. Additionally, the films explore the continued connection Palestinian people have to nature, even when they have been forced to leave or are born in the diaspora. Fruit, herbs, trees and even soil hold on to beloved memories and the rich history of their homeland.

This program is presented in partnership with Storm Studio.

In 2020, just as the pandemic was beginning, Gazala purchased land in western Ohio, on which sits a disused school building. This site allowed her to explore her complex relationship with “the land.” As the daughter of displaced indigenous Palestinians, she attempts to form a proxy bond with the earth, on ground that was stolen from the displaced indigenous Shawnee people. Closeness to the Land is video footage of hand-painted text signs that translate the word الأرض (ard) into six English words, displayed performatively in multiple locations to capture the now-invisible nature of indigenous culture in Ohio. These signs were installed on the old schoolhouse in early 2021.

Filmmaker bio: Mona Gazala is a Palestinian-American artist living in western Ohio. She holds a Masters Degree from the Ohio State University in studio arts with a specialization in city/regional planning. Her practice, which is multi-disciplinary and often socially engaged, explores and exposes dynamics of power and systems of oppression that often manifest in the built environment. This includes what is visible as well as what has been erased in structures, neighborhoods and geographies.

Gazala is the recipient of numerous grants from the Greater Columbus Arts Council, Franklinton Arts District, Puffin Foundation West, Ohio Alliance for Arts Education, Decapital, and the Hishmeh Foundation, to undertake creative work centered on community-building, social justice and activism.  

  • Year
  • Runtime
    7 minutes
  • Language
  • Country
    United States
  • Director
    Mona Gazala
  • Screenwriter
    Mona Gazala