The Promised Land Through a Lens of Compassion
The opening night of the 7th annual Israel Film Festival kept its audience pounding with expectation. Of the 18 films and documentaries that cover a variety of topics from art, to science and geography – only two directly address tension with Palestine.
Festival creator Eran Bester’s efforts to widen our horizon on a vibrant culture has been met each year with bigger venues, larger schedules and more spectators. He’s proud to bring world class guest speakers such as renowned filmmaker Eran Riklis, Israeli’s famous documentary director Tomer Heymann, and Dr. Raz Somech.
“Cinema appeals to all ages and it’s the perfect way to expand peoples’ view of the Israeli’s reality you seldom see through the conventional news channel,” said Bester.
The screening of Precious Life, latest documentary of acclaimed journalist and director Shlomi Eldar, submerges viewers in a different version of the Israel-Palestine reality, one more microcosmic and human.
A desperate Palestinian mother striving to save her 4 1/2 month old child, a caring physician and a journalist share a special bond by putting aside their differences to save the child’s life. The little boy born with a deficient immune system needs a marrow transplant to survive. Eldar uses his media connections to launch an appeal for help requesting the $55 000 for the operation.
Paradoxically, in no time the entire sum was donated by an anonymous Israeli man whose son was killed in combat. Raida, the child’s mother is faced with her own nation’s animosity for being helped by Israeli doctors.
Israeli Dr. Somech and Eldar go to unbelievable lengths in order to help a child whose life became so precious in their eyes. It presents itself as striking contradiction in the center of turmoil.
Left to Right: Festival Creator Eran Bester & Dr. Raz Somech
It’s a story of incredible compassion, humanity and friendship among members of neighbour nations that see each other as enemies. In the midst of cruelty and death emerges hope to build bridges for peace.
“This is not an isolated case,” said Somech. “I helped several Gazan children before.”
“I am an optimist. I haven’t changed the world but I helped at least one Gazan family to look differently at Israel. They are now to me closer than friends, they are like family” he said to the crowd after a long standing ovation.
“I believe there are good people from both sides, people seeking to live in peace and security,” said Somech. “There is no other alternative to reach them but through compassion.”
Winner of several awards and Oscar nominee for Best Documentary, this emotionally charged production reveals a personal account of Israeli-Palestine conflict, one that Somech describes as “tragedy with hope.”
Precious Life plays May 16, 6:30 pm at Concordia University West Room H-110. Tickets are 14$ and free for Concordia students with a valid ID. Festival runs May 14-23
For ticket information call 514-937-2332 or visit israelfilmfestival.ca
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