The best documentaries are those that shed a whole new light on a situation or examine it in a new and unique way. Right from the start, however, it seems that Jenin Jenin has a far different agenda. Instead of being a rich and complex examination of a difficult, tragic conflict, it is a repetitive and monotonous exercise in preaching to the choir.
In order to establish credibility in a documentary, we need to see something of what is being described. Instead of footage from the event, we get mainly indictments from people who are supposedly eyewitnesses to the carnage, and are asked to take it all on faith. Some of these interviews are powerful and painful to watch, but others require leaps of faith for a rational observer, and that is something a documentary should never ask of its viewers. In fact, a good chunk of the movie is an interview with its own producer, making his own pontifications on the events of Jenin. Imagine Michael Moore making a film where he just talked about his own views and cited no sources, and you'll get an idea of what most of this is like.
These observations quickly become predictable, as do the rest of the interviews and the movie. The 54 minutes seem interminable as we hear story after unvaried story about the pain and suffering that the horrible Zionist conspirators inflicted on the helpless Palestinians. About 10 minutes of this footage would be good to use in a far better film that examines the conflict in much greater depth and with more meaning, but the rest should have found the cutting room floor.
Jenin Jenin is apparently not meant to be viewed from a critical perspective, and because of the nature of the events it documents it is almost beyond criticism. For Israeli sympathizers, it is no more than a hateful piece of Hamas-funded propaganda. For Palestinian sympathizers, it is a scathing indictment of a corrupt and evil nation run amok. With such a polarity in play, there is almost no way to discuss a film like this rationally. But then, the movie apparently isn't meant to be seen that way. It is a call for the viewers to rise up and bash Israel, and while it may be effective for those who are already completely sold on it and just want a justification, for others it just comes off as propagandistic.
For an aspiring journalist like myself, Jenin Jenin lacks the meat of true reporting, and is little more than an inflammation of previously existing hatreds. If you're looking for a deeper understanding of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, look elsewhere. Not recommended.
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