In September 1997 naval officer Itamar Elia was killed in an ambush in Lebanon. Since then, nothing has been the same for his mother, father and sister. Delivering news of death, in the words of a so-called "casualty officer", is like cutting the lives of the affected families with a knife: into a before and an after. In this documentary film from Ohad Milstein and Aya Elia, Itamar's sister, three casualty officers report on the difficulties and responsibilities the job entails. They must adhere to strict protocol and precise wording, leaving no room for doubt when delivering the news of a death. The extinguishing visible in the eyes of the recipients of the message also burdens those tasked with delivering it. For co-director Aya Elia, herself only 11 when her brother died, there was to be no more happy childhood or adolescence. Feelings of guilt, emptiness and immense grief determine the life of the family to this day; a fate shared by many families in Israel. A film about loss and death and how a society deals with the impending death of military personnel, be they children, parents or spouses. A human emotional view that makes us painfully aware of what is actually behind the losses in numbers and the strategic/factual discourses on arms deliveries and territorial gains.
Text: Kira Taszman
English: Peter Rickerby