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Blood Relation

75 Minutes, 2009, Documentary; Other Israel Film Festival

Identity, family, and ethnicity blur in surprising ways in Noa Ben-Hagai’s Blood Relation. Ben-Hagai discovered letters from her great-aunt Pnina and learned that in the 1940s, 14-year-old Pnina disappeared near her family home in what is now Israel. While initially the family didn’t know what happened to her, Pnina’s letters revealed that she married an Arab and had children with him-though it is never completely clear if this was by choice or not-and now lives in a refugee camp as an Arab. The letters also contained Pnina’s desperate pleas for contact from her family. With the help of her uncle, a retired colonel in Israeli intelligence, Ben-Hagai tracks down the unknown family in the Palestinian Territories, and uncovers a singular history of the Israeli-Palestinian divide. As the families reunite, their divergent positions and rights as Israelis and Palestinians place an immediate strain on their relationship. Skillfully weaving archival footage and photos together with family interviews and scenes from various meetings of this Jewish-Arab clan over the course of three years, Blood Relation provides a uniquely personal example of the complexities of Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation.