MVFF: Precious Life (A-)

There have been many documentaries about the Jewish/Palestinian conflict in Gaza, and quite a few of them have appeared at the Mill Valley Film Festival. Precious Life is perhaps the best. Jewish filmmaker Shlomi Eldar has been an Israeli war correspondent for two decades, but in this film he’s become part of the story. A Palestinian baby is born with no immune system in Gaza. Normally the baby would die not long after birth. But under incredible circumstances, Eldar manages to get the baby and his parents through the checkpoint to an Israeli hospital. Together with the Jewish doctor, they manage to raise $55,000 for a bone-marrow transplant procedure from an anonymous Jewish donor who lost his own son in the war. The baby’s parents are in complete disbelief. They’ve been raised to believe that the Jews were monsters. That’s just the setup. The true-life story just gets better from there.

The reason I particularly life this film is that more than any other film, it helped me understand how the people on either side of this conflict see one another. It also shows how deeply one needs to dig into their own beliefs to truly understand people of other cultures and religions. Just believing you’re tolerant and not prejudiced isn’t enough. You have to work hard at it.

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