In 1967, when she was only two years old, Palestinian Film Director Dima Abu Ghoush was forced out of her hometown of Emwas as Israeli troops occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Emwas, known by its biblical name Emmaus, was demolished by Israeli forces during the Six Day War, British journalist Michael Adams wrote in the Sunday Times.
Abu Ghoush worked as a teacher before pursuing a master’s degree in film production at the University of Bristol in the UK. “Especially for Palestinians, films have a special importance,” she told MEMO. “It’s a medium, a tool to tell our stories.”
She spent years listening to stories about her hometown, but she only knew it as a ruined village that was razed by the Israeli army. In her award-winning film “Emwas: Restoring Memories”, Abu Ghoush decided to reconstruct her demolished hometown from the memories of its former inhabitants in an attempt to preserve its history and pass in onto her children.
“The film follows that journey of me along with family and friends trying to build that model from the memories of the people who lived there and the photos we could find,” she said.
The village has been turned into a public park called “Canada Park” where only a few of the village’s ruins remain. Narrating the history of the destruction of Emmaus is an attempt to preserve the collective memory of its former inhabitants and their dreams to return to the homes from which they were expelled.