eBay Founder's First Look Media Buys Rights to Israeli Docu on Lynching of Asylum Seeker Mistaken for Terrorist

The acclaimed film 'Death in the Terminal' describes events leading to the 2015 death of Haftom Zarhum, who was killed after he was shot and beaten by nearby bystanders at the Be'er Sheva bus station before dying of his wounds

Video footage from the October 18, 2015 terror attack at the Be'er Sheva bus station, showing Zarhum being kicked while lying bleeding on the floor.
Video footage from the October 18, 2015 terror attack at the Be'er Sheva bus station, showing Zarhum being kicked while lying bleeding on the floor. Screengrab

The distribution rights for “Death in the Terminal,” an acclaimed documentary describing how a migrant worker from Eritrea was mistaken for a terrorist and killed in the Be’er Sheva central bus station in 2015, have been purchased by First Look Media, a firm established by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar

On October 18, 2015, an armed terrorist infiltrated the bus station and killed an Israeli soldier. A security guard mistakenly identified Haftom Zarhum, an Eritrean national, as the terrorist and shot him, after which bystanders attacked Zarhum as well. He later died of his wounds.

The film reconstructs the events surrounding the terrorist attack, helped by closed-circuit security camera footage and interviews with eyewitnesses.
The film, directed by Tali Shemesh and Asaf Sudry, just won the award for best mid-length documentary at Toronto’s prestigious Hot Docs international documentary festival last week.

Israel's African migrant community holds a memorial for Haftom Zarhum, October 21, 2015.
Reuters

“This film is a powerful portrayal of how storytelling shifts our perception of people, events and even our own preconceptions,” said Adam Pincus, First Look Media’s executive vice president for programming and content. “‘Death in the Terminal’ is a perfect example of what we look for. It’s provocative, artful filmmaking that challenges us to re-think how we look at the world.”

“Death in the Terminal” was sponsored by Israel’s Yes satellite television service’s Docu channel.

It was the major winner at last year’s DocAviv festival in Tel Aviv and won the Ophir, the Israeli equivalent of the Oscars, for documentary films up to 600 minutes in length. It also won the best mid-length film at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam.

First Look, a U.S. based media company, was founded by Omidyar in 2014 to promote freedom of the press. Among its work is the film “Spotlight,” which portrays the Boston Globe’s investigation of sexual abuse of children by priests in Massachusetts. The film won this year’s Oscar for best picture.