Tuesday, October 12, 2010

VIFF 2010 – Precious Life

A four month old Palestinian boy born without an immune system is taken to Israel for treatment that will save his young life. Funds have to be raised in order for this baby to get the treatment that he needs. This is where reporter/filmmaker Shlom Eldar comes into the story.

Eldar does a story on the families struggle to raise money and as a result inserts himself into the lives of this Palestinian family. While Precious Life seems on the surface to be about the struggle to save this babies life, it is not. The focus of the film is on the conflict of ideologies between Shlom and the baby's Palestinian mother Raida. Shlom can't believe that Raida would be fine if her child grew up and became a martyr for their religion. While Raida presents her case logically Shlom reacts irrationally. That is why this documentary doesn't work. Director Shlom often stirs up agreements with Raida and he comes off as a bit of a jerk. Shlom thinks that Raida's radical religious views should be changed after being helped by so many Israelis. Raida is in no way ungrateful for the assistance of the many Israelis that help her family she has just been taught to devoutly follow the cause of the Palestinians. Criticising this is just insensitive on Shlom's part.

Shlom does eventually come to terms with the differing beliefs between himself and Raida. The overal message of the film is that acceptance of cultural diversity is needed in order to end conflicts. This is a good message, but unfortunately it is told in a poorly made film. Shlom is not a filmmaker and it shows. The film is more like a long news report than a film. This coupled with Shlom's insensitivity in the middle of the film cheapens the story the documentary is trying to tell. No release date yet

A Banana Peel

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