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Ever since 17-year-old Rachel Levy, an Israeli, was killed four years ago in Jerusalem by a Palestinian suicide bomber, her mother Abigail has found hardly a moment's peace. Levy's killer was Ayat al-Akhras, also 17, a schoolgirl from a Palestinian refugee camp several miles away. The two young women looked unbelievably alike. TO DIE IN JERUSALEM unabashedly explores the Palestinian-Israeli conflict through the personal loss of two families. The film's most revealing moment is in an emotionally charged meeting between the mothers of the girls, presenting the most current reflection of the conflict as seen thru their eyes. Written by
It's rare that I feel a need to write a review on this site, but this film is very deserving because of how poorly it was created, and how bias its product was.
I felt a distinct attempt on the part of the film-makers to display the Palestinian family as boorish and untrustworthy. We hear them discuss the sadness that they feel from oppression, yet the film is shot and arranged in a way that we feel the politically oppressed population is the Jewish Israeli population. We see no evidence that parallels the position of the Palestinian teenager. We only hear from other Palestinians in prison. I understand restrictions are in place, but the political nature of the restrictions are designed to prevent peace.
I came out of the film feeling that the mother of the victim was selfish in her mourning and completely closed minded due to her side of the fence, so to speak. She continued to be unwilling to see the hurt of the bomber's parents, and her angry and closed-minded words caused the final meeting to spiral out of control. It is more realistic, in my mind, to see the Israeli mindset to be a root of the problem; ignored pleas for understanding and freedom, ignored requests for acknowledgment for the process by which the Jewish population acquired the land.
I have given this a two because of these selfish weaknesses of the mother, which normally would be admirable in a documentary, however in the light of the lack of impartiality, it all seems exploitative. Also for the poor edits, lack of background in the actual instance, and finally the lack of proper representation of the Palestinian side. Ultimately, it is a poor documentary and a poor film. I acknowledge this is partially the result of the political situation, but am obliged to note the flaws in direction regardless of the heart-wrenching and sad subject matter.
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