Thursday July 19, 2012 AT 10:00 PM ET on CBC News Network
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Swimming with the dolphins takes on new meaning when “dolphin therapy” is used to treat a young man traumatized after a violent beating. After months of being detached from reality and speechless, Morad’s devoted father decides his son will try the experimental treatment. The documentary follows Morad’s progress for four years as he develops an exceptional relationship with the animals, and forms a new identity as the “dolphin boy.”
Before the beating, Morad lived a regular teenager’s life in an Arab village in the north of Israel. He was socially popular, loved by his family, an athlete, and the best student in class. Then one night in 2006, he is kidnapped and brutally beaten by friends who mistakenly think he’s involved in a relationship with their under-aged cousin and violated their family’s honor.
Morad recovers physically from his wounds within days. However, he doesn’t speak or respond to anything for weeks and is on the verge of being hospitalized in a mental institution. His father consults one of Israel's leading experts for post-traumatic stress, Psychiatrist Dr. Ilan Kutz, who suggests taking Morad 500 km away to Israel's southern city – Eilat, for an alternative treatment with dolphins.
Morad's devoted father leaves his wife and 5 other children, sells his farm and land to finance the treatment, and accompanies Morad to Eilat, not knowing if or when they will return.
The documentary follows Morad as he begins the treatment, and captures the exceptional bond he develops with the dolphins almost instantly, communicating with them without words. After 3 months of silence, Morad starts to speak again, but he’s erased his past and refuses to go home or visit with his mother. During the following months, he is finally able to remember and even speak about the incident itself. Yet, he chooses to build his new life in Eilat, living at the Dolphin Reef and even finding a girlfriend, Shani, who works there.
The documentary Dolphin Boy was filmed over the course of four years and demonstrates the devastating havoc that human violence can wreak upon the human soul, and the healing powers of both nature and of love. It was directed by Yonatan Nir and Dani Menkin, and Co- Produced with ARTE & Channel 4.