- Director:Shlomi Eldar
- Release Date:July 21, 2011
- Running time:90 minutes
- Film Worth:$17.00
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Eye-opening and often devastating, this documentary challenges audiences to confront and question their own biases and assumptions.
Initially starting out as a medical drama, Precious Life becomes an absolutely shattering glimpse into the complexity of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The story revolves around four-month-old Muhammad, who was born in The Gaza Strip, and soon after finds himself in an Israeli hospital. He's been born without a functioning immune system, and will die without a bone marrow transplant - it's a condition that has already seen his mother, Raida, lose two daughters. Muhammad's doctor asks the man behind this doco - journalist Shlomi Eldar - if he'll help raise the necessary $55,000 for the operation. They acquire the funds, thanks to an anonymous Israeli donor, and a family member is found to be a good match.
While this is fascinating enough, about halfway through the doco, we hit a devastating moment that brings the film's title sharply into focus. Criticised for accepting help from the Israelis, Raida is exhausted and upset, but it's at this time that Eldar strikes up a moral debate. When he puts to her how precious life is, Raida refutes him by saying that it's not, and that death is normal. She talks approvingly of suicide bombers, and says that she'd be proud if Muhammad grew up to be a martyr. That's the tragedy of this film: this mother is fighting to keep her son alive, but is happy for him to grow up and kill himself in an attack on the very people who have saved his life.
While for many it's an almost insurmountable moment, there's a larger issue that Eldar reveals: when people live in a never-ending state of conflict, the preciousness of life can become tragically conditional. Eldar, however, clings to the hope that people in this war can not only find the lives of their loved ones precious, but also the lives of those on the other side as well.