The city of Qalqilya sits on the edge of the West Bank and is home to the only zoo in the Palestinian territories. The Qalqilya Zoo lost its prized giraffe during the second Intifada. The lore surrounding the question “What happened to the giraffe?” became its own urban legend. The beating heart of the zoo and the man who keeps things running is Dr. Sami, a veterinarian who has dedicated himself to turning his zoo into a world class institution that makes all Palestinians proud. The cooperation and support Dr. Sami receives from the leaders of the Jerusalem Zoo stands in stark contrast to the political obstacles standing in his way–most notably by the Israeli government and military, but also by the revolving door of leadership in Qalqilya. Determined to succeed, even with that cement border wall constantly in view, Dr. Sami continues to leap over the hurdles in the zoo’s path, determined to provide his people with the only zoo they may ever know.
Throughout the world, large groups of people continue to face oppression and discrimination due to religion and ethnicity. Each year, thousands migrate to other countries, uncertain of what may lie ahead, but desperately searching for better lives. With an international refugee crisis afflicting the entire globe, director Dotan follows the specific journeys of two Christian women from Sudan and Eritrea, who fleeing war, dictatorship, and religious persecution in their countries. Over a five-year period, they seek asylum in Israel, later in Uganda, attempting to build new lives while still remaining under the constant threat of deportation. They have no homes to which they can return, and their uncertain status has no end in sight. These specific stories stand in for a more universal tale of refugees, not only in Israel, and uncover the volatile political conversations throughout the entire world, including here at home.
On October 18, 2015, in the southern Israeli town of Be’er Sheva, a man carrying a knife and a gun walked into a bus terminal and opened fire. Eighteen minutes later, the perpetrator and two other people were dead: An Israeli soldier named Omri Levy and Abtum Zarhum, an Eritrean refugee seeking asylum in Israel because his own country had become too dangerous. Amid the chaos of a terrorist attack, mob rule took control of the crowd, which mistook Zarhum for a terrorist, and lynched him. By painstakingly editing together security camera and mobile phone video footage and eyewitness accounts, the filmmakers provide a minute-by-minute reconstruction of the incident. The diverse perspectives both complement and contradict each other, questioning the reliability of each witness and revealing the power of emotion over reason.