Return To Ramallah

A Palestinian American Story

Music, Memory and Identity as Palestinian American musician Fuad Foty returns to the West Bank after 40 years away from home.

Return To Ramallah tells the story of my father, local Washington, D.C. musician Fuad Foty and his return in June 2014 on the heels of this summer's Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to Ramallah, West Bank, Palestine.

 

Fuad Foty's forty years away from Palestine began shortly after the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, when he and his family moved to the U.S. and into a very different world of Houston, Texas.  After witnessing enormous violence during his last days in Palestine and being met with hardship and further violence in Houston, playing the Oud (Arabic Lute) became a central part of Fuad's life. While in the U.S., Fuad used the Oud as a way to battle the fresh memory of Israeli oppression as well as the unexpectedly unfriendly environment of Houston.

 

Now a long-time Washington, D.C. resident, Fuad like many others in the city, is a federal government worker by day but in his own time, he is a well-known local musician playing both traditional Palestinian music and Arab fusion. Fuad holds onto the memories of old Ramallah through his unwavering commitment to playing and signing Palestinian resistance songs on the Oud. He has instilled in his family and encourages in his community, a sense of Palestinian identity and pride through music.

 

For years, Fuad has had a deep desire to return to Ramallah but fear of safety has kept him from home, until now. As the American Federation of Ramallah, Palestine, a Palestinian-American organization has planned its upcoming annual convention in Ramallah for the first time ever, Fuad is determined that this time he will return home.

The Production in West Bank Palestine

In June 2014, Return To Ramallah: A Palestinian-American Story crew followed Fuad Foty on his return home Ramallah for this feature length documentary. During our production, the issues of identity and "home" become prominent themes as both Fuad Foty and members of the crew grappled with ideas around 'Palestinianess'. Yet, these interpersonal conflicts were quickly pushed aside as violence erupted during our shoot this summer 2014 at the brink of one of the bloodiest days of fighting between Israelis and Palestinians in recent memory.