(Photo: Rina Castelnuovo)

(Photo: Rina Castelnuovo)

By Jessica Steinberg - February 15, 2018 

Originally appeared here in The Times of Israel 

In a documentary now making the rounds of film festivals, an Israeli photojournalist trained her lens on a small Gazan child whose remarkably paradoxical existence reflects the complicated mix of humanitarianism, hatred and bureaucracy that governs relations between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Rina Castelnuovo, who spent 24 years as a New York Times photographer in Israel, devoted four years to closely documenting Muhammed El-Farrah, known as Muhi, an 8-year-old Palestinian boy from Gaza who has spent most of his life in limbo at Tel Aviv’s Tel Hashomer hospital.

The result of that closeup lens is “Muhi — Generally Temporary,” a documentary film in Arabic and Hebrew with English subtitles that she co-directed with Tamir Elterman focusing on the quirky, funny semi-permanent resident of Tel Hashomer, along with his grandfather and caretaker, Hamuda Abu Naim El Farrah.

It is a troubling, even devastating film, yet it offers hope in the figure of Muhi, who perseveres despite the amputation of his hands and feet. He scrambles around the hospital with his prosthetic limbs, and holes up with his grandfather in the hospital room that became his home. Read More