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Late in 2006, President Jimmy Carter tours the U.S. promoting his provocative "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid." Demme's camera follows Carter from city to city, home to Plains (population 635), visiting a Habitat for Humanity site in New Orleans, and talking on radio and TV with Teri Gross, Charlie Rose, Diane Rehm, Jay Leno, Larry King, Wolf Blitzer, Tavis Smiley, and Al Jazeera and Israeli pundits, discussing Palestine's plight and the policies of Israel. Critics speak as well. Between events, Carter talks about Camp David, recent travels, being married, speaking Spanish, and wisdom he learned from Rachel Clark, his nanny. A montage of speeches, awards, and travels ends the film. Written by
According to the film's press notes, the milestones and achievements of the Carter Center include: (1) Leading a coalition that has reduced incidences of Guinea worm disease from an estimated 3.5 million in 1986 to about 25,000 today, making it likely to be the first disease since smallpox to be wiped off the face of the Earth ; (2) Observing more than 67 elections in 26 countries to help establish and strengthen democracies ; (3) Teaching techniques that have helped more than 8 million small-scale farmers in 15 African nations to double or triple grain production ; (4) Furthering avenues to peace in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Liberia, Sudan, Uganda, the Korean Peninsula, Haiti, and Bosnia and Herzegovina ; (5) Helping to establish a village-based health care delivery system in thousands of communities in Africa that now have trained health care personnel and volunteers to distribute drugs and provide health education ; (6) Strengthening international standards for human rights and the voices of individuals defending those rights in their communities worldwide ; and (7) Advancing efforts to improve mental health care and diminish the stigma against people with mental illness. See more »
"Jimmy Carter: Man from Plains" is not a biography of the 39th President of the United States; nor is it a chronicle of his time as President, or even of his work with Habitat for Humanities, though both are touched upon in the course of the film. Rather it is a documentary account of a national book tour Carter conducted in late 2006 to promote his controversial and provocatively entitled tome, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid." Carter basically gives two reasons why he felt compelled to write the book: 1) the fact that there had been no peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians in the then- five or six years of the Bush administration, and 2) what he sees as the unfair treatment of the Palestinians who live in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Anyone daring (or foolish) enough to venture into this minefield of a topic risks detonating intense passions on both sides of the conflict, but Carter's history and reputation as a peacemaker between the two aggrieved parties would appear to give him some cover on the issue. Well, not exactly, for we see many, mostly pro-Israeli groups and individuals, protesting and challenging him as he travels around the country providing interviews on this hyper-sensitive subject.
As a movie, "Jimmy Carter: Man From Plains" is no more than serviceable, even though it comes with an impressive pedigree, namely Jonathan Demme for a director. It is obviously sympathetic to Carter's position and it nicely illustrates the basic decency and humanity of a man who has hit the pinnacle of power yet still manages to remain true to the small town values of humility and service on which he was raised. But it's also unimaginative and redundant and probably isn't going to do much to assuage the concerns of those who hold opposing views to his.
It's worth seeing for its historical significance though.
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