Cause of Death – On Demand (NZ Only)

“As a study in grief
Cause Of Death offers depth beyond its emotional crusade.”
Screen Daily

An emotive debut feature by director Ramy A. Katz, Cause Of Death deconstructs a complex incident in recent Israeli history.

On the night of March 5, 2002, a terrorist opened fire on diners in a Tel Aviv restaurant. Policeman Salim Barakat intervened, taking on and killing the terrorist – but also dying himself as a result of his injuries. The official record attributed the fatal injury to a throat stab wound inflicted by the assailant.

For years afterwards Jamal, Salim’s brother, attended police ceremonies in commemoration of his brother.

But what initially appeared to be a clear-cut case of heroism which ended in tragedy soon became a topical and controversial exploration of a potential race- and religion-fuelled cover-up. Indeed, Salim’s brother Jamal now contends that prejudice played a bigger role in his sibling’s death than the gun- and knife-wielding terrorist.

“…an impassioned, angry and determined quest for answers.”
– Screen Daily

Suspecting that the authorities may have withheld information, Jamal set out on a quest to find out who killed his brother. There were reports that Salim was indeed shot to death, not stabbed – and that he was killed by a bystander or member of the security forces.

The deeper Jamal dug, the more evidence he unearthed: expert opinions, witness statements, secret tip-offs and medical records with ‘gunshot’ listed as his brother’s cause of death. Director Katz charts each step of Jamal’s search for the truth, including the police department’s repeated denials of Jamal’s allegations.

Katz intercuts archive news footage with Jamal’s desperate attempts to get to the facts – facts that expose the uncomfortable truth that engrained discrimination against Arabs may have caused a Jewish onlooker to view Salim as the terrorist, and to fire at him.

Previous festival appearances for Cause of Death include
IDFA, Netherlands

79 min
Arabic, Hebrew
Ramy Katz