The Heart of Jenin

The death of a Palestinian boy becomes a conduit of life for three children in Israel in Leon Geller and Marcus Vetter's remarkably balanced docu "The Heart of Jenin."

The death of a Palestinian boy becomes a conduit of life for three children in Israel in Leon Geller and Marcus Vetter’s remarkably balanced docu “The Heart of Jenin.” The Israeli media made much of the news in 2005 when Ismael Khatib donated his son Ahmed’s organs, and helmers Geller (Israeli) and Vetter (German) leapt on the story. Straightforward docu’s made-to-order subject can’t fail to set eyes quietly welling with tears, making it perfect fare not just for Jewish fests but for the smallscreen, too.

Little Ahmed was playing with a toy gun when he was killed by an Israeli soldier. Dad Ismael Khatib agreed to donate the organs: As if by Solomonic decree, one kidney went to a Bedouin boy, one to an Orthodox Jewish girl, and the heart to a Druse child. Docu follows Khatib, now director of a children’s center in Jenin, as he travels from the Occupied Territories to visit the organ recipients in Israel. Pity the Orthodox family is so hateful. Helmers struck gold with Khatib, whose sad, intelligent eyes bespeak indescribable grief. Music tries too hard to pull emotional strings.

Popular on Variety

The Heart of Jenin


Production: An Eikon Suedwest production, in cooperation with SWR, in collaboration with ARTE. (International sales: Telepool, Munich.) Produced by Ernst Ludwig Ganzert, Ulli Pfau. Directed, written by Leon Geller, Marcus Vetter.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Nadav Hekselman; editor, Saskia Metten; music, Erez Koskas. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (Ici & Ailleurs), Aug. 13, 2008. (Also in Jerusalem Film Festival.) Original title: Das herz von Jenin. Arab, Hebrew, English dialogue. Running time: 93 MIN.

More Film

  • Beforeigners

    'Beforeigners’' Anne Bjornstad on HBO's First Norwegian Original Series

    HAUGESUND, Norway  —  HBO Europe’s first Norwegian original series, which debuted Aug. 21 exclusively across HBO’s territories, has garnered rave reviews in the Norwegian press. It is also a perfect fit for HBO’s brand and goal to create bold, smart and author-driven shows. Produced by Endemol Shine’s Norwegian prodco Rubicon TV, “Beforeigners” is helmed by [...]

  • Refugees from the besieged Muslim enclave

    Sarajevo’s True Stories Market: Documenting the Atrocities of War

    Reconciliation and dealing with the tragedies of the Yugoslav Wars has been a major focus of the Sarajevo Film Festival and its CineLink Industry Days event in recent years. The True Stories Market, launched in 2016, aims to connect filmmakers with organizations that are researching and documenting the Yugoslav Wars that spanned 1991 to 2001 [...]

  • Ena Sendijarevic’s ‘Take Me Somewhere Nice’

    Ena Sendijarevic’s ‘Take Me Somewhere Nice’ Wins Top Prize in Sarajevo

    “Take Me Somewhere Nice,” Bosnian director Ena Sendijarević’s coming-of-age story about a teen raised in the Netherlands who returns to Bosnia to visit her ailing father, won the top prize at the Sarajevo Film Festival Thursday night, earning the Amsterdam-based helmer the coveted Heart of Sarajevo Award. The jury heralded the “beautifully photographed, acted, scripted [...]

  • Khadar Ahmed - BUFO - photo

    Bufo Sets Key Cast for Co-Production ‘The Gravedigger' (EXCLUSIVE)

    HAUGESUND, Norway  —   Actor Omar Abdi, who starred in the Ahmed-scripted short “Citizens,” and actress Yasmin Warsame, who made her name as a Canadian model, will topline romantic-tragedy “The Gravedigger,” the latest big screen project from Bufo, the Helsinki-based outfit behind Berlinale winner “The Other Side of Hope.” The film follows a Djibouti gravedigger [...]

  • Jacobs Ladder Movie 2019

    Film Review: 'Jacob's Ladder'

    It’s understandable that someone would want to remake “Jacob’s Ladder,” Adrian Lyne’s 1990 head-trip thriller about a Vietnam veteran haunted by fragmentary nightmare visions. I was far from alone in finding the original to be an overwrought but rather thin “psychological” horror film that was more punishing than pleasurable. And it wasn’t exactly a hit, [...]

  • Fiddler A Miracle of Miracles

    Film Review: 'Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles'

    Still beloved and routinely revived 55 years after its Broadway debut — including a Yiddish-language version now playing in New York — “Fiddler on the Roof” is a popular phenomenon that shows no sign of subsiding. Max Lewkowicz’s “Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles” provides an entertaining if hardly exhaustive overview of how the unlikely success [...]

  • 'Weathering With You' Heads for $100

    'Weathering With You' Heads for $100 Million Box Office Haul

    Makoto Shinkai’s animated romantic drama “Weathering with You” passed the JPY10 billion ($94 million) mark in Japan on Wednesday, according to an announcement by distributor Toho. This makes it the tenth-highest earning Japanese film of all time. Since its release on July 19 on 448 screens in 359 complexes, the film has racked up 7.52 million admissions. The [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content