Every once in a while, I come across a movie or documentary that transcends the usual boundaries we’ve come to associate this art form with. “Stay Human” however, is not simply a movie. Nor is it simply a documentary. It’s a Reading Movie giving voice to a man whose life and death are now symbols of Palestinian resistance: Vittorio Arrigoni.
22 days of relentless bombing. Over 1,200 civilians, 400 of whom were children, killed. Vittorio Arrigoni witnessed it all as a member of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), an organization which has seen many of its members killed including Rachel Corrie, Tom Hurndall and Akram Ibrahim Abu Sba’ as well as several injured. Arrigoni himself was murdered by strangling on the 15th of April 2011.
He was killed not by the Israeli government such as in the cases of Corrie and Hurndall but by Palestinian extremists such as in the case of Abu Sba’. His killers were members of Jahafil Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad fi Filastin, an extremist Jihadi group linked with Al-Qaeda. The murder was widely condemned across Palestine, including by Hamas which described it as a “disgraceful act by a mentally deviated and outlawed group”, later giving Arrigoni a state funeral. Four Salafist extremists were condemned by a Hamas court. The court sentenced two of them to death but later changed it to life imprisonment after Arrigoni’s parents asked for their lives to be spared.
This world of violence that Arrigoni lived in lead him to urge everyone to “Stay Human”, a phrase he would keep on repeating several times until his death. In Italian: Restiamo Umani (Let us stay human).
Vittorio Ariggoni’s diary is read in 6 languages – Italian, Arabic, Spanish, Hebrew, English and French – by 6 Italians, 1 Syrian, 1 Spanish, 4 Israelis/Palestinians, 1 French, 5 Americans and 1 Northern Irish. (Subtitles are available on the YouTube video. Just click play, and then click on the sub icon next to settings and choose your language.)
During just over 3 hours, “Stay Human” asks you to patiently listen to Vittorio Arrigoni’s piercing witnessing of the Gaza Massacre (also known as ‘Operation Cast Lead’) which lasted from December the 27th to January the 18th.
- Egidia Beretta Arrigoni (Italian): Mother of Vittorio Arrigoni and Mayor of Bulciago.
- Massimo Arrigoni (Italian): Sound poet, musician, actor and author. Vittorio Arrigoni’s music and theatre teacher.
- Archbishop Hilarion Capucci (Arabic): Melkite Archbishop of Jerusalem in Exile.
- Alberto Arce (Spanish): War reporter, “Cast Lead” survivor. Director of the documentary “To Shoot an Elephant”.
- Ronnie Barkan (English): Human Rights Activist, co-founder of ‘Boycott from Within’.
- Akiva Orr (Hebrew): Human rights activist, politician and writer.
- Stéphane Hessel (French): Diplomat, politician and writer. Redactor and signer of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
- Huwaida Arraf (English): Human rights activist, lawyer and co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and Free Gaza Movement.
- Moni Ovadia (Italian): Actor, dramatist, writer and musician
- Don Andrea Gallo (Italian): Priest of sidewalk, partisan. Founder of the Community ‘San Benedetto al Porto’.
- Mohammad Bakri (Arabic): Actor, author, movie director
- Noam Chomsky (English): Political scientist, writer and activist.
- Maria Elena Delia (Italian): Human rights activist.
- Luisa Morgantini (Italian): Human rights activist, ex Vice President of the European Parliament. Co-founder of the Russell Tribunal for Palestine.
- Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss (English): Rabbi, peace activist.
- Norman Finkelstein (English): Political scientist, activist and author.
- Roger Waters (English): Songwriter and composer. Founder of Pink Floyd.
- Ilan Pappé (English): Historian, activist. Director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies, and co-director of the Centre for Ethno-Political Studies at Exeter University.
- Mairead Corrigan Maguire (English): Human rights activist, co-founder of The Peace People and Nobel Peace Prize 1976.