ELEVEN Days In May is a painful watch, recording the loss of 60 young lives during the bombing of the Gaza Strip by Israel between May 10 and May 21 last year.
It’s formulaic and repetitive, but it’s also heartbreaking with some of the footage truly shocking – this documentary is not for the faint-hearted.
Co-directed by Palestinian filmmaker Mohammed Sawwaf and renowned documentary maker Michael Winterbottom, it shows the children in life and death. The contrast is truly palpable.
It records the aspirations they had – to become doctors and policemen – and uses TikTok videos and selfie filters to confirm their overwhelming zest for life despite the harsh surroundings.
It then shows the devastation that their loss causes those relatives left behind to grieve.
Tears come thick and fast. It’s impossible not to shed them as a viewer. The kissing of a child’s mutilated head by her heartbroken father in the mortuary will break your heart.
The possessions of those children whose lives have been taken are displayed time and time again: football shirts and school books.
There is no spin, no blame. This is a documentary that highlights the brutality and indiscriminate nature of military intervention. It could be Ukraine, Yemen. It doesn’t take sides. It’s an advert for pacifism.
The documentary is voiced over by Kate Winslet – her voice monotone, metronome and containing not one ounce of emotion. And the music, by Max Richter, is relentless, thudding away in the background like the bombs that drop from the skies and shed their shrapnel indiscriminately killing young and old alike.
Chronological in format, I was counting down the days of bombing on the fingers of my two hands. I wanted the film to finish so that I could breathe again and dry the tears from my eyes.
Selfish? Yes, but it’s exactly what the film is designed to do. That is, highlight the relentless, repetitive and deadly consequences of war on the innocent young. There is no escape.