The film concentrates on several groups of
victims. One such group focuses around Ilya Gutman, a 19-year-old
arrival from Kazakhstan, who is survived by elderly parents,
a disabled brother, and a fiancee - all still trying desperately
to cope with pain that refuses to go away.
"I want to physically put my arms around
him," says Ilya's mother LARISA; "I want to caress
his face… For a long time I couldn't go to the kitchen. I
still heard his voice: Mom! What's cooking? Your son's hungry!
Nor can Ilya's younger brother Misha, disabled with cerebral
palsy, reconcile himself with his loss. "He was my protection,
my arms, my legs - I really don't see a future for myself
anymore. But we have to live - somehow."
Equally poignant is the recollection of Ilya's fiancee Anya:
"Fifteen seconds before the explosion his hand was on
my shoulder… ten minutes later I watched helplessly as the
paramedics were massaging his heart, and there was not a thing
I could do to help."
Yulia Sklianik, 15, left behind a sibling,
too - her older sister SVETA, who had to be hospitalized with
a nervous breakdown and was subsequently discharged from the
Army. "I remember how we used to dream we would have
children one day," Sveta says in her interview, "and
we would take them out together. My kids will be so lucky,
Yulia used to say, to have an aunt like yo."
The Nalimov family lost two daughters, Yulia,
16, and Yelena, 18. Two tall, vivacious girls who had recently
arrived from Yekaterinburg, who loved music, who loved horsing
around - and now "the house is quiet," says their
mother Alla bitterly. "Like a tomb."
Everybody predicted that Alena Shaportova,
14, a willowy blonde from a grimy Ukrainian city of Zaporozhie,
would be a cover girl one day, smiling for the cameras. Amazingly,
Alena did smile for our camera. Amazingly, because smiling
is not easy to do with two metal balls lodged in her brain,
which are still too dangerous to remove. The doctors did not
believe she would survive, with half her brain blown away
by dynamite. But she did. Like a 6-year-old, she is relearning
how to read. When you look at her struggling during her physical
therapy, you don't notice that half her face is paralyzed.
Her smile is as radiant as ever.
MARK and IRINA RUDIN were divorced, but for
their daughter's sake they rented across the street from each
other, and they showered their only child Simona, 17, with
love. Now her mother cannot even bear to go by the Dolphinarium
or walk around downtown Tel Aviv where everything reminds
her of Simona. Her father watches the slide show made for
him by Simona's friends. "It's painful," he says,
"but I feel relieved afterwards". Simona was also
his dancing partner - they danced salsa competitively. Now
her girlfriends still come to see him regularly, to remember
Simona, and, of course, to dance, with the same elan as they
did when she was still alive.
"This is our way of remembering her,"
says Rita Abramova, 17, a friend of Simona's who survived
the bombing. A metal ball punctured Rita's lung and descended
into her diaphragm. She could not breathe. They pumped blood
out of her lung. She might still have a surgery to have the
ball extracted. Triple arm fracture. She has a steel rod in
her broken leg, from her hip to her knee. But Rita feels like
anything but a victim. She studies hard for her graduation
and applies to go to college. And she dances salsa. With dedication
like hers, a steel rod is not an obstacle.
Polina Valis, 18, is not settling for the
role of a victim, either. This fragile young girl walks and
speaks with deliberation that suggests both a profound trauma
and a lot of quiet determination. Polina has fragments of
explosives in her back and her arm. Pieces of muscular tissue
were torn out in the knee area on both legs. An eardrum was
shattered. Another fragment is stuck in the sole of her foot.
"I realize the terrorists have succeeded in ruining many
lives," Polina says. "But I have decided for myself
that I'll be happy and joyful, that I'll dance and live my
life fully. And that will be my revenge."
And this is the quiet heroism we celebrate
in our film. Our heroes do not want revenge; nor do they want
to die for a cause and have their desires fulfilled in paradise.
Their spirits cannot be broken by a group of homicidal maniacs
seeking world domination. Our heroes will carry on -- with
joy, with sorrow, and with dignity. They will never forget
the loved ones, the scars will never heal fully - but they
will live, love… and dance.