Israeli film ‘Precious Life’ makes 2011 Oscar shortlist

The Israeli documentary ‘Precious Life’ about the unlikely bonds that develop when a Palestinian family seeks medical treatment in Israel has made the Oscar short list.

The film, directed by Israeli television journalist Shlomi Eldar focuses on a Palestinian family from Gaza who receive treatment for their infant son in an Israeli hospital. Aided by a devoted Israeli doctor and the anonymous Israeli philanthropist who foots the bill, an observant Muslim family fights for the life of their son alongside their Jewish neighbors. Tensions eventually arise when, in the midst of treatment, the Gaza war breaks out and the child’s mother says she would gladly sacrifice her son “for the sake of Jerusalem”.

Eldar, a prominent Israeli news anchor and producer Ehud Bleiberg were in Los Angeles earlier this month to screen the film at the Museum of Tolerance.’s Sharon Waxman moderated a discussion with the filmmakers and the Palestinian family from Gaza who were skyped in to join the conversation.

But don’t get too excited because although an incredibly moving and important film, ‘Precious Life’ is not getting the kind of Oscar buzz other docs are getting. 

Anne Thompson writes on that the frontrunners are “Oscar-winner Alex Gibney’s Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, Oscar nominee Charles Ferguson’s Inside Job, Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger’s Restrepo and Davis Guggenheim’s Waiting for Superman.”

Which is still good news for Jews. “Client 9” is about former New York attorney general, Eliot Spitzer, who of course, is Jewish, though we’re not particularly thrilled that the film highlights his relationship with for-hire shiksas. Also good for Jews is Davis Guggenheim’s education-themed documentary “Waiting For Superman”. Guggenheim was a longtime client of former William Morris agent David Lonner, a super Jew, and went on one of Lonner’s industry-exclusive trips to Israel in 2008. Also, Amir Bar-Lev’s “The Tillman Story” about a government cover-up of football star Pat Tillman’s death in Afghanistan is a serious contender, no doubt due to its provocative content and the backing of awards-magnet producer Harvey Weinstein.

The announcement also brings focus on the snubs, which includes the critically acclaimed Joan Rivers doc, “A Piece of Work” about the iconic and eccentric Jewish comedian.

Also left off the list is the Holocaust film “A Film Unfinished.”

Here are the 15 contenders, courtesy of The New York Times’ MichaeI Cieply:

“Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer,” Alex Gibney, director (ES Productions LLC)

“Enemies of the People,” Rob Lemkin and Thet Sambath, directors (Old Street Films)

“Exit Through the Gift Shop,” Banksy, director (Paranoid Pictures)

“Gasland,” Josh Fox, director (Gasland Productions, LLC)

“Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould,” Michele Hozer and Peter Raymont, directors (White Pine Pictures)

“Inside Job,” Charles Ferguson, director (Representational Pictures)

“The Lottery,” Madeleine Sackler, director (Great Curve Films)

“Precious Life,” Shlomi Eldar, director (Origami Productions)

“Quest for Honor,” Mary Ann Smothers Bruni, director (Smothers Bruni Productions)

“Restrepo,” Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger, directors (Outpost Films)

“This Way of Life,” Thomas Burstyn, director (Cloud South Films)

“The Tillman Story,” Amir Bar-Lev, director (Passion Pictures/Axis Films)

“Waiting for ‘Superman,’” Davis Guggenheim, director (Electric Kinney Films)

“Waste Land,” Lucy Walker, director (Almega Projects)

“William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe,” Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler, directors (Disturbing the Universe LLC)