The documentary Dolphin Boy follows teenage Morad’s progression out of a near catatonic state thanks to a process called Dolphin Therapy. Psychiatrist Dr. Kutz narrates the story of Morad’s self-imposed disconnection from reality following a beating by his classmates. After several failed treatments, Kutz recommends aquatic therapy as a last resort and Morad’s loving father packs them up and moves 500km south to the dolphin reef in Eilat. Within two days Morad is petting the dolphins and within a month he’s learned how to dive and swim like a fish. His condition gradually improves as he’s forced to remove himself from the present to confront his troubled past.
Morad’s transformation is miraculous, so much so that it raises a lot of questions about the authenticity of the footage, the condition, and the therapy itself. Morad is a medical anomaly, his condition a safety net. Thus things seem a little fishy when he’s suddenly performing underwater aerobics for the cameras. While his attachment to the mammals is endearing, you have to speculate on the hundreds of other exterior stimuli that may have provided the same outcome. It’s a thought provoking film on any level and a taut, easy watch at 72 minutes.
Dolphin Boy screens this Saturday, March 3 at 8:00 PM at the Franklin Institute as part of the Israeli Film Festival of Philadelphia. Co-director Dani Menkin will be in attendance.