Filmmaker Thierry Binisti has based A Bottle in the Gaza Sea on a young adult novel written by Valerie Zenatti, who also served as the co-screenwriter of the film. The target audience is young. They lack the cynicism found in adults.
A Bottle in the Gaza Sea is about the 17 year old Tal (Agathe Bonitzer), who moves from France to Jerusalem with her family. She is traumatized by a bomb attack at a café. She writes her feelings in paper and places them in a bottle that her brother throws into the sea. It is found by Naim (Mahmoud Shalabi), a 20 year old Palestinian who replies back to her.
In the beginning Naim has nothing but contempt for his Israeli pen pal. He considers her and everyone she knows as his enemy. He expresses his anger to her. On her part, Tal attempts to make him acknowledge that both sides of the story. They impact each other in ways that neither of them expected. Tal questions why the two countries are at war. Naim is resentful for their situation.
There have been stories like this before. What sets A Bottle in the Gaza Sea apart from the other ones is the gentleness that Binisti approaches the hard subject. There are no villains in the movie. It doesn’t attempt to sway opinions towards one side or give out any political ground.
There are people who might find A Bottle in the Gaza Sea to be a disappointment. But the movie is evenhanded and more open-hearted than most movies with the same theme. It is a story of two opposites. The thought of two people from different sides of a conflict ending up to be friends is unimaginable and yet it happens in this film.
The acting in A Bottle in the Gaza Sea is superb. The movie has a slow pace and written in a realistic fashion. It gives people hope for people on either side of the conflict.