Thursday, January 06, 2011
I recently had the privilege of watching Precious Life, one of the fifteen documentaries short listed for an Oscar nomination this year.
Deservedly so, the recent documentary Precious Life, will largely be praised for it's moving story of human decency and dependence in the hardest of times. The set up for the documentary is that a Palestinian woman from Gaza who's child is in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant in order to survive. With the help of an Isreaeli doctor, funds from an anonymous donor, and media publicity the story unfolds.
Shlomi Eldar, the Israeli journalist who constructed this film, and places himself as a central character in the story telling has done a remarkable job capturing this story and revealing unique things about the long struggles between people in the middle east.
The magic and intrigue though in the film really doesn't come into play until half way though the documentary in a dialogue between the Palestinian mother and Eldar, who suddenly transitions from journalist to person in his question asking, as he struggles with the way the mother, from a clearly different faith tradition, answers his questions.
Now there is definitely plenty of room to suggests that the mother's answers to his questions are doctored from reality due to her own fear of retribution for answers that might be unacceptable in her community, a community that is already critical and skeptical of her for obtaining medical intervention from "the enemy."
Yet, it is these questions about this telling interaction where a Palestinian mother of a sick infant tries to convince a journalist that her child's life is not precious that the rest of the film really blossoms.
From here, the film warrants discussions. Whether that discussion is the blatant discussion of whether life is precious, or the role of "the camera" in story telling, that depends on how you watch this film. But there are moving and troubling dialogue that really makes this film an important film.
Photo: "Precious Life." Credit: Shlomi Eldar