Over 150 Israeli and Palestinian children have been killed since the start of the Second Intifada in 2000, and each child’s death tore a mother’s world apart. LULLABY tells the heartbreaking story of those grieving mothers in their own words.
“My daughter was born on the day the Intifada set off. When she turned 6 months old
an Israeli baby was shot in the head; a month later a Palestinian baby was shot. This for me was intolerable,” says filmmaker Adi Arbel of her inspiration for making the film.
Looking straight into Arbel’s silently penetrating camera, eleven women describe their children’s deaths in this horrible conflict. Their own struggles to cope with their personal tragedies show candor, emotion, and at times even a sense of humor. Transmitted throughout the film are penetrating revelations about motherhood, the gruesomeness of armed conflict, and the burden of bearing witness in the most tragic way possible.
These eleven women come from varied backgrounds: Palestinians, Israelis, a Russian immigrant, and an American Christian living in Israel. The stories of their children’s deaths are chilling, sometimes shared in explicit detail, and through these stories the viewer comes to understand a common thread among them.
LULLABY communicates the universal love of a mother for her child, and the universal difficulties and dilemmas that the loss of a child presents. Even the common questions of everyday life and casual meetings are rife with complications. “I hate when people ask me how many children I have, because I will always have three,” declares one Israeli mother, wondering, “So how does one respond to such a question?”
For some of the mothers, their tragedy is seeing their child brutally killed before their eyes; for others, their tragedy is not having been there to witness their child’s last moments. A baby-faced Palestinian mother is as traumatized by having found her infant daughter’s body ripped open by IDF gunfire as an older Israeli grandmother is by not knowing what happened to her daughter and two of her four grandchildren in their last moments. “The neighbor told me she screamed ‘Mommy’ as hard as she could,” cries the grandmother in the film, “and I’m just trying to imagine, to put pieces together to know what happened to my daughter in that moment…and I can’t solve this mystery.”Their children’s deaths serve for all the mothers as a challenge to their motherhood, as they find themselves tortured by their inability to do what they feel is a mother’s primary responsibility: to protect her children. “She is so small and helpless and you are everything for her because without you she couldn’t live…and all of a sudden, in this attack, you are there for her, but you can’t do anything. Nothing,” relates a secular Israeli. “Forgive me son, I could not help you when you called out to me, I was under debris,” a Palestinian mother recalls pleading to her son as she held him for the last time.But overwhelmingly, the greatest pain these mothers share is in missing the presence of their children. They all have that same wonder of what sort of adults their children would have become, and describe being haunted by their memories of their children.Finally, they share the necessary struggle of moving on, and of being complete parents to their remaining children. As the young Palestinian mother asks, “Tomorrow, when my children grow up, how are they to see me like this? I am supposed to instill courage in them. They shouldn’t be scared of anything. But I myself am scared, I am terrorized.”LULLABY was an official selection at numerous film festivals, including the UK Jewish Film Festival, DocAviv, and the Vancouver International Film Festival.