First Palestinian animated film scans breast cancer

Mon Jul 6, 2009 11:52am EDT
 
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By Erika Solomon

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters Life!) - The true story of a Gaza woman's lost battle against breast cancer has been commemorated in the first commercial animated film made in the Palestinian territories.

"Fataneh" was inspired by the plight of 28-year-old Fatma Barghout, who died in 2004, and the humiliation and frustration she suffered in trying to enter Israel for treatment during a Palestinian uprising.

Director and animator Ahmad Habash said the 30-minute film, funded by the World Health Organization and based on findings by the Israeli Physicians for Human Rights (IPHR), took an even-handed approach.

"There were doctors that tricked the girl and those that helped her on the Palestinian side. And on the Israeli side there were people who helped her, and those who didn't," Habash said.

In the film, the female character named Fataneh finally gains admission to Israel's Tel Hashomer hospital with the help of the Israeli physicians' group after being entangled by Israeli and Palestinian red tape.

Palestinian doctors had brushed off the woman's concerns over a lump in her breast. One tells her to loosen her bra, while another makes light of her condition by saying: "Those things tend to go away with marriage."

The film's climactic scene occurs at Israel's Erez checkpoint on the Gaza border, where cancer-weakened Fataneh is aggressively made to disrobe for an Israeli security check, exposing the two mastectomies on her chest.

At the film's premiere in the West Bank city of Ramallah, one viewer said the movie was a depressing but accurate picture of how Palestinians are "treated as less than human beings" in trying to receive proper health care.   Continued...