In 1940, a 14-year-old Jewish girl named Pnina disappeared. 27 years later, she resurfaces, married with children, living in a refugee camp in Nablus. The filmmaker learns about Pnina, her grandmother's sister, only after her grandmother passes away.
Noa Ben Hagai tells how she found a box of letters, dating from the years immediately following the Six Day War. The letters were written by Pnina who was trying to re-establish relations with her siblings, so many years after they had lost contact. Now, more than 40 years later, the families re-connect via Shmulik and Salma, the children of two sisters. Shmulik, a retired colonel in the Israeli army, is the son of Pnina's sister. Salma is one of Pnina's offspring. Shmulik and Salma live in very different worlds.
The film is told like a thriller – as the reasons are revealed concerning how and why Pnina disappeared so many years ago. We also learn about the difficulties of family relations – Shmulik represents the occupation and Salma is a victim of it. Also putting matters into historical context, the film tells the story of a refugee family from Jaffa who fled to the West Bank and their contemporary difficulties under Israeli occupation. Most importantly, the film is an honest and fascinating look at the complexities – the anguish, dependency, expectations and burdens -- that are created all as a result of the filmmaker's attempt to connect with her long lost family.
The film Blood Relation (documentary, 75 minutes, 2009), directed by Noa Ben Hagai, is available from Eden Productions.