World in a Grain of Sand

Muhi – Generally Temporary is a moving feature long documentary by Rina Castelnuovo Hollander and Tamir Elderman, which has just won the Best Debut Prize at Docaviv festival in Tel Aviv.

The film was world premiered at San Francisco International Film Festival in April and screened at Hot Docs Canadian International Film Festival at the start of May. The Israeli premiere took place past Saturday in Tel Aviv, to a huge success. Two screenings in Tel Aviv were sold out. An additional screening has been scheduled for Friday May 19th at 10:00 AM at Tel Aviv Cinematheque. So instead of waiting for months before this documentary will be broadcast by Yes Docu Channel which owns the rights – just go.


Muhi (short for Muhammad) is a 7-year-old boy from Gaza who has spent most of his life in Tel HaShomer Hospital in Tel Aviv. As an infant suffering from a rare disease, he was rushed in Israel and operated. His both legs and arms were amputated. Since then, the hospital is his only home. He is accompanied by Abu Naim – his wise and sturdy white bearded grand father. The two are assisted by a volunteer Buma Inbar, a bereaved father. After losing his son in Lebanon, Buma is committed to helping Palestinian children living in Gaza to have access to medical care in Israel. Abu Naim and Buma call one another “brothers”: Abu Naim, too, loses his son in Gaza to the ongoing conflict.

Muhi cannot return to Gaza since his condition is untreatable in hospitals of the conclave. His mother, who is living in a two hours ride from Tel HaShomer hospital, can see her son just once in a few years: obtaining entry permissions is quite problematic.

Despite the hardships and absurdity of the situation, Muhi is a strong and ever smiling boy, who is equally fluent in Arabic and Hebrew. He merrily runs through the hospital corridors on his prosthetic legs, only rarely giving up to sadness and longing.


Rina Castelnuovo-Hollander is the award-winning Israeli veteran photojournalist and a photographer for The New York Times for 25 years. After meeting Muhi, Abu Naim and Buma, she came to a conclusion that stills are insufficient for making justice to the story. This is how Tamir Elterman has entered the picture. Elterman is a young American documentarian and digital journalist published among others by The New York Times and Discovery who has been living and working in Israel for about 10 years.

The filming took more than three years. The result is one of those rare films, that reach far beyond regular movie going experience. They grasp your heart and mind and never let you go. An intimate story with just a few characters, it emerges as a metaphor, which relates to thousands and millions.
In a mundane language it speaks about humanity, love, compassion and sacrifice; it reminds you that there are quite a few great people around, Arabs and Jews, and although we are all trapped in this totally unnecessary war conflict between the two peoples, there still is a hope for a better future in this part of the world.

Muhi – Generally Temporary
Directors: Rina Castelnuovo-Hollander, Tamir Elterman
Production: Hilla Medalia
Production Company: Medalia Productions, co-producer: Jürgen Kleinig
Editing: Joelle Alexis
Cinematography: Avner Shahaf, Tamir Elterman, Oded Kirma, Rina Castelnuovo-Hollander
Soundtrack: Kai Tebbel
Music: Ran Bagno

Here you can read much more about the documentary: an informative (yet a bit biased) interview with the directors.

Book the tickets here

Last but not least. A fundraising campaign, to help Muhi with the high costs of his prosthetics, which are to be replaced twice a year, but not only.

Photos of Muhi during filming © Rina Castelnuovo-Hollander, 2015

About the Author
Maxim Reider is a trilingual Israeli journalist, translator and photographer. Born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, he has been making Tel Aviv his home since 1989. Author Photo by Ernest Aranov.
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