The problem with many documentaries is that they are too real, and the filmmakers push their subjects with questions no ordinary mensch would dare ask. But that is what docs are about. For example, in the middle of the transplant operation, the filmmakers ask the father of the Orthodox recipient whether it matters that the donor is an Arab. The father answers that, sure, he would prefer a Jewish organ. (He later regrets his honesty) He and his wife also later say that they would not want their children to be friends with Arabs. While one filmmaker wanted to focus on the relationship between Ismael, Sameh, and her heart, the other filmmaker wanted this story to be a microcosm of the Middle East conflict. I do not believe that either succeeded in their goals, and we are left with half of each.
As Ismael journeys through Israel a year after the transplants, he encounters deep-seated animosity and heartfelt generosity. Guess where the animosity is felt in the directors’ cut? He gets lots of warmth and laughing and even gifts for his Jenin students from the Arab families, and from the Jewish family he gets uncomfortable silence, an apology, advice that is perceived to be an insult, and a gift-wrapped package (and we never get to see what the gift was!). But was it anomosity, or was it an introverted Jewish father who is filled with embarrassment and gratitude, yet lacks interpersonal skills?
I would love to read your opinions if you also saw this national broadcast. By the way, the full 51 minute episode is available here.