Video conferencing closes out film festival

Friday, November 12 2010

During a panel discussion about the award-winning documentary "Precious Life," audience members at the 25th Annual Israel Film Festival in Los Angeles were surprised when the subjects of the film joined in the conversation from Gaza via video conference, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The film chronicles the connection between Israeli television correspondent Shlomi Eldar, who created the documentary, pediatric surgeon Dr. Raz Somech and Palestinian mother Ra'ida Abu Mustaffa. Dr. Somech taps Eldar to help him raise awareness for Mustaffa's baby, who was born with an immune deficiency and needed a $55,000 bone marrow transplant procedure to survive past infancy. The film chronicles the many complex political and religious issues that were encountered after an anonymous donor provides the funds for the operation.

Mustaffa, her husband Faozi and her son Muhammad, who is now three, participated in the discussion live at 7 a.m. Gaza time with Eldar, film producer Ehud Bleiberg and moderator Sharon Waxman, who were in Los Angeles. They were optimistic that Israel and Palestine will eventually find peace.

Video conferencing is increasingly popular at film festivals all over the world. Recently, the Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival in Toronto, Canda, which is in its 18th year, added the technology to post-screening panels for the first time.