Thursday, March 3, 2011

Oscar Can't Stop Deportations

The subjects of an Oscar-winning documentary are about to be ejected from Israel as part of an anti-immigrant crackdown. This despite the fact that many of the kids were born in Israel, speak only Hebrew, and have never lived anywhere else.

The Oscar category, Best Documentary Short was unusually rich this year, all five nominees being films of merit. I thought the best was Poster Girl, a heart-filling, if slightly rough-hewn, portrait of a brave, intelligent young woman afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of her experience in the U.S. Army in Iraq. Despite obvious anguish, Robynn Murray campaigns against the war and the exploitation of soldiers by the Pentagon public relations machine.

The winner was Strangers No More, a profile of the Bialik-Rogozin School in Tel Aviv. Its students are children and adolescents from around the world who are on the run from war and extreme poverty, some alone, some with parents who are asylum-seekers or refugees themselves or who have taken low-wage positions that would otherwise go unfilled in the Israeli economy.

My only reservation with the movie was that it verged on being a brochure, almost gilding a particularly lovely lily. But you could hardly blame filmmakers Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon for falling in love with such caring administrators and teachers as well as students yearning for security and education.

Up to 120 of the school's children, among the most defenseless people in the world, are about to be cast back into the darkness. It's a moral and ethical offense of the highest order.

For the whole story -- my own resource for this posting -- read Batsheva Sobelman's solid article in the March 1 Los Angeles Times, A damper on Israeli school's Oscar celebration.

No comments:

Post a Comment