i-D, Diesel and the Woodstock Film Festival came together last week to showcase two films close to our hearts. The first was Coming Up Roses. The second was Dolphin Boy, where there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
A documentary film from directors Yonatan Nir and Dani Menkin, Dolphin Boy tells the story of Morad, a 17-year-old Israeli-Arab boy who was cruelly and brutally attacked after a misunderstanding that most people reading this wouldn’t bat an eyelid over. Morad was left traumatised and emotionally detached, unable to speak and afraid of human contact. We meet Morad in his psychiatrist’s office during his first therapy session, where he is entirely unresponsive. After several sessions and no improvement, Morad’s psychiatrist suggests an experimental alternative, a dolphin therapy retreat centre in the beautiful city of Eilat. Morad’s father Asad, the unsung hero of the film, drops his job, leaves his village and sells his properties to pay for the treatment, staying by his son’s side. An unfeigned pillar of strength, Asad never loses hope and his story is one of sacrifice, patience and peace, choosing not to ‘take revenge’ on his son’s attackers.
After the screening, Woodstock Film Festival co-director Meira Blaustein chaired a Q&A with director Yonatan Nir, which was almost more moving than the film itself. As a former dolphin trainer and underwater cameraman at the retreat, Nir met Morad when he first arrived in Eilat. He started filming to show the power of the creatures he personally loved, but had to sign various agreements with Morad’s doctors and father that meant he couldn’t release the film until Morad said it was ok. This took four years. But now the film has been nominated for several mental health awards, and has taken a path Nir never expected. A journey for every person involved, Dolphin Boy is well, well worth a watch.
Head here to see pictures from the night.
With thanks to Diesel, Meira Blaustein and George Harvey.