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I've seen my share of documentaries on this subject, and even toyed
with making one myself. But I've never seen one that was this fresh and
vital. Mostly it has to do with the characters featured in the film. On
both sides, the people in "Encounter Point" are just exceptional human
beings who make you glad to be alive.
In recent years I've been wearied by the endless twists and turns that day to day events take in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But "Encounter Point" helps to show that there are stronger undercurrents, driven by people who are both intelligent and committed. And watching it gives you hope that there could be a different way to approach the debate than through series of historical arguments and high-pitched recriminations.
Mostly, though, it was just a pleasure to spend time with optimistic, funny, righteous people who made me really care about their situations. Thanks to the filmmakers for bringing them to me.
I saw this documentary on the Tribeca film festival in New York, and
it's a very impressive movie about the efforts of Israeli and
Palestinian ordinary people to try to achieve peace by meeting each
other and try to get to understand each other. They all have in common
that they lost family members in the Israeli-Palestinian struggle (or
should I say war?), but decided to put the hatred behind them and
concentrate on saving the living, while still acknowledging their
The movie does a good job showing how these people on both side of the fence work to achieve their goals and the difficulties they experience, and try to get other people also to leave their hatred behind, and resist hate and occupation through non-violent means. I found it a welcome glimpse into Israeli and Palestinian society, that shows there is something else possible beside fundamentalism (Jewish or Muslim).
If it is showing near you or on TV, see it if you can!
That unusual thing; a documentary on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
that manages to be hopeful (if still heartbreaking).
It focuses an various groups' attempts to find way to forge bonds and end the hatred.
Most touching is the group for bereaved parents from both side of the conflict who've lost children in the fighting and who come together to share their pain.
Somehow the film as a whole didn't have quite the overwhelming emotional impact it seemed to be headed for, but still a very good, important and worthy documentary.
Israel-Palestine is a region which the West knows far too little about.
About its very complex history, but also about the people and their
everyday worries. This documentary follows Jewish and Palestinian
(Muslim and Christian) peace activists who have lost relatives in the
conflict -- through suicide bombers, snipers, trigger-happy soldiers or
just as plain "collateral damage". They know how terrible it is to lose
a loved one and want to spare others the same misery. The glass eye of
the camera follows them around in a plain, fly-on-the-wall (cinéma
vérité) approach. They include the dreaded "activist mother" as well as
a bull-necked former soldier, a future assistant mayor and a
would-have-been bomb builder. What makes them so appealing is that they
are normal, diverse people on a difficult mission.
One scene shows us a group of Israelis visiting a group of Palestinians in the occupied territory; the Israelis chicken out and want to change the location, their Palestinian go-between becomes annoyed and, like a stroppy child, refuses to talk to them on the phone. When they finally meet, the Israeli group leader chides him: "If only you would have talked to me, we could have cleared this up in five minutes!". In another scene, an Israeli mother challenges settlers with advocating Apartheid. A settler mother responds that if she wants them to give up the settlement, this means digging up all their dead. A Palestinian woman describes how a settler has smashed all her windows in order to get her family to abandon their home.
Scenes like these convey more emotional information than long essays. This is what makes this documentary so gripping to watch.
Thank you, this movie gives me hope.
I was at the screening of this film at the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan. The audience laughed, cried and cheered.
This documentary presented complex and real representations of people on all sides of this conflict.
It makes you think! Ultimately, we see the Other as human...As someone said, it's not about being pro-Israeli or pro-Palestinian. It's about being pro-human!
Thank you, again.
The success of Avni and Bacha's Encounter Point at Tribeca and other
venues may be attributable to its refusal to take sides in the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It follows both Israeli and Palestinian
members of an unfortunate "club"--parents who have lost sons and
daughters in the hostilities between the warring groups. They have
formed a group that is attempting reconciliation among its own members
first and then reaching out to bring about understanding on a national
My attempt to make the summary above sound objective is clearly a failure. Even the summary takes sides. "Conflict" to many Israelis is too mild a word to describe what they term "acts of terrorism." When death comes from the gun of an Israeli soldier, it is a casualty of war from the Israeli point of view, but Palestinians see it as cold-blooded murder. Thus, when I use "warring," I am taking sides. And while I do not describe the group's aims as "forgiveness," "settlement," "compromise," or "appeasement," by adopting the film's use of the term "reconciliation," I am suggesting equivalence between the two positions.
The fact is that, as all documentaries, Encounter Point takes a position and is unmistakable in its sympathies. Despite that, viewers who disagree with the attitude will still find much to interest them in the film. If the point of view was responsible for its booking, the film's actual interviews are what make it worth seeing. To their credit, if they chose deliberately, and to the credit of their artistic temperament if they chose instinctively, the filmmakers provide unforgettable moments of clarity. A Palestinian member of the group takes the filmmakers to meet his mother in Arab Jerusalem. She urges him to tell the story of his arrest as a young man. He tells of being in a room with two young men who were building bombs. When the bombs exploded prematurely, he too was arrested and imprisoned for a decade. Interrupts the mother, "He wasn't even in the room. He was outside, getting a haircut." The son gently but firmly corrects her, admitting he was in the room but insisting he was minding his own business. What a seminal moment, with mother's love and memory combining to offer a palatable version of events.
A similar moment of clarity emerges during an interview on Israeli television. The group's representative urges Israelis to question the efficacy of a policy toward Palestinians that has created 50 years of hate. The moderator responds by asking the representative to consider the possibility that the hate has no basis, that Palestinians want them dead without a specific provocation. And the representative raises his shoulder in the classic Jewish response that non-verbally says, "Who knows." Unfortunately, that shrug of doubt undercuts the optimism that animates the movement toward peace.
Ultimately, the strength of this film does not lie in its hopeful presentation of the group's aims but in its accurate rendition of the group members with all their human sadness, determination, and naiveté. Their stories, Israeli and Palestinian, are heart rending.
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