A lush, moving, epic drama spanning two continents and two decades, Romanian-born, Paris-based director Radu Mihaileanu's incredibly moving and highly relevant Live and Become follows the life of an Ethiopian boy who is passed off as an African Jew to escape his ravaged country. As the years pass we follow Schlomo as he becomes a teenager growing up in Tel Aviv learning about Judaism and western values – and falling in love. However he also has to experience the war in the country's occupied zones and some vicious prejudice when he discovers some Israelis cannot accept that Jews can also be black. With the help of a local leader he grows into an idealistic young medical student, and secretly writes letters to his real mother back home. Schlomo is forced to make the heart-wrenching decision about whether to admit to the deception that has shadowed his entire childhood.
Director Mihaileanu balances the challenging feat of incorporating themes of racism, religious intolerance, redemption, a sense of self and the complex realities of the immigrant experience of integrating into a new society while never forgetting the old. But in particular, he follows, step by step, the exceptional destiny of a person who gradually discovers a love of life in all its forms, and creates an engrossing, acutely observed and emotionally searing film about culture, identity and belonging.