|‘Five Broken Cameras’ co-directors Davidi (left) & Burnat|
It’s fascinating to see two documentaries – one Israeli and one Palestinian-Israeli – picked as finalists for the Academy Award. Ralph Seliger interviewed Guy Davidi, the Israeli co-director of “Five Broken Cameras” and blogged about it here.
This is a rare year in recent cycles that an Israeli film has not been a top contender for Best Foreign Language Film honors, but it will be a tribute to Israeli cinema if one of these two finally wins a coveted statuette in the documentary category. Yet some Israelis will not be pleased.
Reviews of “The Gatekeepers” include one in The American Prospect, “An Inescapable Truth” by journalist Gershom Gorenberg, beginning as follows:
As I watched The Gatekeepers in a small hall in Jerusalem, [these] thoughts kept repeating in my mind. The first was that if the new Israeli documentary were showing on prime-time television rather than in tiny cinematheque auditoriums, the country’s vapid election campaign might morph turn into an urgently needed debate on the occupation. … The film’s Oscar nomination for best documentary will not be celebrated in those organizations.
…. Yuval Diskin, who stepped down as head of the agency only in 2011, … speaks with quiet anger about the chronic vision deficit of today’s leaders, including Benjamin Netanyahu. Nothing, it seems, has changed. Virtually the only prime minister described as breaking the pattern is Yitzhak Rabin, who made the strategic choice of peace with the Palestinians. Rabin’s assassination “murdered hope,” says Yaakov Perry, the Shin Bet’s chief during the Palestinian uprising of the late 80s and early 90s. The assassin, Jewish extremist Yigal Amir, achieved his goal of stopping the peace process….
[Still,] … the film does not allow easy judgments. It unflinchingly shows terrorism as a reality, a form of evil. The footage of the aftermath of bombings in Israeli cities is almost unbearable to watch. ….
Yet a near-consensus emerges: The war cannot be won by military means and espionage. When you leave the service, when you have time to reflect, says Perry, you realize that you’ve become “a bit of a leftist.”….
…. “The Gatekeepers” is clearly inspired by Errol Morris’s non-confrontational handling of Vietnam planner Robert McNamara in “The Fog of War” (and [director] Moreh says as much in interviews). But “The Gatekeepers” is actually stronger than Morris’s original, partially because the Israeli history treated is more recent, but more because the six combined interviews give a profile of an institution, not just an individual. …