What does it mean to lead men in war? What does it mean to come home? Hell and Back Again is a cinematically revolutionary film that asks and answers these questions with a power and ... See full summary »
The Marines of Echo Company
Based on an interview of the director in one of the film festival showing that is is supposed to be a 5-part TV series intended to utilize the rest of the interview material. See more »
In the opening scene, the coordinates on satellite or UAV video feed are either in the East Pacific or the West Pacific depending on whether one takes the longitude to be East or West respectively. See more »
As Head of the Shin Bet, you learn that politicians prefer binary options. They don't like having three or four options. They want you to tell them "Zero or one. Do it. Don't do it." As a commander, I find myself in situations that are different shades of gray.
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The Israeli/Palestinian Conflict Rendered Even More Hopeless
This film makes a big assumption that its audience has at least a practical knowledge of the history of the Israel/Palestinian conflict. There's almost no context offered other than a brief recap of the 6 Days War in 1967 when Israeli forces under the leadership of the charismatic Moshe Dayan invaded and conquered Palestinian controlled lands on two fronts, including Syrian, Lebanese and Jordanian lands. To the south on the border with Egypt is the Gaza Strip and to the east is the West Bank encompassing the lands extending to the Jordan River and includes the ancient city of Jerusalem. These ostensibly autonomous regions were officially under Palestinian rule but nearly every aspect of daily life was controlled, monitored and regulated by Israeli agencies and forces. Never mentioned are the contentious circumstances of Israel's establishment as an actual nation following World War II, and thus a key aspect of the conflict is conspicuously absent, presumably because it would require at least 2 or 3 hours just to review this subject, even superficially. Needless to say, it's a complex and convoluted history, and prior biases and prejudices are inevitable, and the film is certainly not innocent of this transgression, but this in no way diminishes the impact and resonance of the film's superbly executed theatrics.
Yes, the film relies extensively on the old documentary trope of the well lit talking head, but The Gatekeepers triumphs in its masterful incorporation of actual Israeli military footage of aerial and ground attacks, and even more so by the photographs which through remarkable computer enhancement are rendered sculptural. The way these black & white still photos are made to spring to 3 dimensional life is a sublimely potent metaphor for the ability of artful storytelling to reanimate presumably long dead history. The words of the various former leaders of the Shin Bet carry an undeniable gravitas and echo in the mind and soul as we are visually guided on a tour of their previously little known realm. By focusing on the subtle variations and contradictions of each speaker's version of events and policies and tactics we are made acutely aware of the generations old conflict's profound effect upon the psyches of everyone involved. The most confident and stoic of the former leaders is possessed of a deep sense of tragedy. Avraham Shalom - who headed Shin Bet from 1981 to 1986 during the time of an incident where two Palestinian prisoners were ordered killed while being held in captivity - casually denies his culpability but it's apparent that the incident has inflicted deep wounds which even today are still very tender.
The mind bending paradoxes of the seemingly intractable conflict have left their mark on all these competent, eloquent and even brave men, and some are willing to admit that perhaps they have behaved immorally and even criminally while also acknowledging the irony of their cruel treatment of Palestinians as inexcusable behavior for a people as historically mistreated as the Jews. It's a desperately poignant moment when the individual men all express their doubts and even contempt for the political leaders who so brazenly exploit the horrific conflict for their own ends. These six men who were charged with the gruesome task of eliminating threats to Israel's security are oddly some of the most compelling critics of their nation's treatment of the Palestinians.
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