I can’t stop thinking about the Israeli documentary Precious Life which I watched recently, and is premiering on Rialto Channel tonight at 8.30pm.
I can’t stop thinking about the Israeli documentary Precious Life which I watched recently, and is premiering on Rialto Channel tonight at 8.30pm (encore screening is on Sunday May 6 at 4pm).
The documentary was shot by Channel 10 Israeli journalist and Gaza correspondent Shlomi Eldar, and was shortlisted for the Best Documentary Film category in the 83rd Academy Awards in 2010. It tells the story of Arabs and Israelis coming together to try and save the life of desperately ill Palestinian baby Mohammed Abu-Mustafa, born without a functioning immune system and in need of an expensive bone marrow transplant operation.
The baby is taken to Tel Hasomer Hospial in Israel; only one hour away from his home in Gaza and yet a completely different world. The boy’s doctor Dr Raz Somech, the quiet hero of this film, asks Shlomi to help him raise the approx $50,000 needed to perform this life saving operation. After filing just one story on television a Jewish Israeli offers to pay the full amount for the operation.
Shlomi continues to be involved both as a filmmaker and personally by bringing the Palestinian family back and forth across the Israeli - Gaza border as they try and find a DNA match to save Mohammad.
To his credit Shlomi acknowledges early on in this film that his journalistic objectivity has been compromised, and this is one of the things that makes the documentary such a gem. The other reason is a conversation Shlomi has with Mohammed’s mother Raida, while waiting for Mohammed to recover from his operation Raida casually mentions life is not precious, and she’d be proud for Mohammed to become a martyr for the Arab cause.
It’s a shocking and unexpected twist and devastates Shlomi who spends the rest of the film trying to understand Raida’s comment, following Mohammed and Raida’s journey through further medical complications and the Israeli-Gaza war of 2008 - 2009.
This isn’t a perfect film. It’s simply shot and structured, but also an incredibly raw, honest and realistic look at life in a turbulent part of the world. Without initially intending too Shlomi has captured the complexity of the 2000 year old Middle East saga. It’s an absolutely fascinating watch - make sure you catch it if you can.