Issa (Salim Dau) is a 60-year-old bachelor fisherman. His sister can’t stand that he is unmarried and insists on trying to set him up with various available women. He is not interested. But, secretly, he has a crush on Siham (Hiam Abbass), a widow of his own age, who runs a small dressmaker shop and has an adult daughter who considers her old-fashioned.
Issa is not the sort of fisherman who baits a hook and waits for a bite. He uses a motorized boat with nets. The limitations imposed on Gazan fishermen are painfully well-explained in the Irish documentary Gaza.
One evening, Issa hauls in something big: a statue of Apollo with an erect penis. This aspect of Gaza mon amour, written and directed by twin brothers Arab and Tarzan Nasser, was inspired by a true event (except for the penis) that happened in 2013 and is the subject of Nicolas Wadimoff’s documentary The Apollo of Gaza.
Issa takes the statue home with him and enjoys its presence. But word gets out, the Hamas authorities take it from him, and it disappears.
The Nasser brothers don’t shy away from politics, and it is clear that Issa and his friends feel oppressed by both the Israelis and by Hamas. But this is really a love story. The conflict that dominates Gaza mon amour is whether Issa will get up the nerve to make a move on Siham and how she will react if he does.
Gaza mon amour is a quiet, charming film about people who would be happy if they could just lead a life that would be considered “normal.”