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4:30 pm ET
Nov 8, 2010

Festivals

‘Precious Life’ Video Conference Closes Out Israel Film Festival

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  • Precious Life

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  • Michelle Kung
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    Diana Ezra

    During a panel discussion about Shlomi Eldar’s award-winning documentary “Precious Life,” the closing night film of the 25th Annual Israel Film Festival in Los Angeles, audience members were treated to a pleasant surprise: the subjects of the film video-conferenced in from Gaza to participate in the talk.

    “Precious Life” documents the triangle between Israeli television correspondent Shlomi Eldar, pediatric surgeon Dr. Raz Somech and Palestinian mother Ra’ida Abu Mustaffa. Against the backdrop of Israel’s 2008-2009 blockade of Gaza, Dr. Somech calls upon Eldar to help him raise awareness for Ra’ida’s baby, Muhammad, who was born with an immune deficiency and needed a $55,000 bone marrow transplant procedure to survive past infancy. After an anonymous donor provides the funds, Eldar and Ra’ida engaged in a series of intense discussions that highlight the many complex political and religious issues facing the modern Middle East.

    Both Ra’ida, her husband Faozi and his son Muhammad, who is now three, used video-conferencing technology to participate in a discussion with Eldar, film producer Ehud Bleiberg and moderator Sharon Waxman to talk about their reactions to the film. Ra’ida, who is fluent in English, began by noting that her son’s health was “not good,” before saying that the documentary, for obvious reason, hasn’t played in Gaza and only her immediate family has seen the film. She added that she was actually afraid for her neighbors to see the film, because they wouldn’t necessarily understand why she took the actions that she did. Dressed in a green head scarf, she ended the talk on a more optimistic note, noting that given her experiences, she had hope for the future.

    After Ra’ida and her family signed off (the event was taking place at 7 a.m., Gaza-time), Eldar echoed Ra’ida’s thoughts and said that he was optimistic that Israel and Palestine will eventually find peace. He added that he hopes the “cognitive dissonance” that that he initially encountered when shooting the film will apply to others who watch the film as well, and help them see individuals who they’d normally consider an enemy, are actually human beings as well.

    “Precious Life” will debut on HBO in the second quarter of 2011.

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