Dror Moreh at J-Street

The documentary “The Gatekeepers” has had a major impact over the past year, during the course of its theatrical release and national broadcast. I was surprised but happy to see that J-Street, the “pro-peace, pro-Israel” political organization, invited Dror Moreh, director of the film, to speak on the first night of the recent J-Street conference in Washington. J-Street posted a video of the evening, which gives us a chance to see Morer’s remarks, which were powerful. You can watch here, starting at around 35 minutes into the clip.

Two out of Five ain’t Bad

Congratulations to the filmmakers of “The Gatekeepers” and “Five Broken Cameras” on their nominations for the best feature documentary Oscar.   They are two very different films in style and approach.   Both offer strong condemnations of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.

“Five Broken Cameras” artfully cuts together the videos made by a non-professional Palestinian video shooter in Bil’in.  It’s honest, direct, deeply moving.  It contains harrowing, detailed footage of Israeli raids on the village. “The Gatekeepers” operates at a higher level of sophistication.  It manages to remain cinematic, even though most of the film consists of talking head interviews with six former heads of the Shin Bet, Israeli’s internal security agency.   One of them, a compelling chubby old man in suspenders, compares the occupation to Germany’s occupation of Europe during World War II.   It’s a shocking moment.


“The Gatekeepers”: What’s next after the New York Film Festival?

I’m despondent that I missed the screening of “The Gatekeepers” at the New York Film Festival last week.   Critics have praised the film, which is based on a series of interviews that director Dror Moreh conducted with six former heads of the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service.   The film combines these interviews with stock footage of Israeli security operations in the West Bank, including some video footage of a lethal drone strike that is supposedly breathtaking.

“The Gatekeepers” was positively received at Telluride and again at Toronto, and has been picked up for domestic distribution by Sony Pictures Classics.   A release date has not been publicly set.

I was a bit surprised that the film wasn’t review in the New York papers.   It’s an important subject, and the film was singled out as the highlight of the two prestigious festivals.

This recent glorious run for “Gatekeepers” makes me wonder about what’s going on with another new important new docu, “The Law in These Parts.”  “Law” won the World Cinema Jury Prize at Sundance this year, but as far as I know, hasn’t been screened in New York.    The film tells the story of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank through interviews with Israeli judges who set up and ran Israel;s administrative law courts in the West Bank, the mechanism by which Israel has provided some semblance of legality to the way in which it prosecutes Palestinian terrorists and protesters.   The interviews are mixed in with archival footage, according to reviews, to powerful effect (see the trailer
here.)  The film received wonderful reviews.   I’m wondering what fate awaits “Law” now
that “Gatekeepers” has made a big splash in New York and has landed a distribution deal with a major company.   It would be a shame if “Law” were to fall victim to the notion that
there’s not enough room in the world for two powerful (and somewhat similar) films about
the occupation, told from the perspective of the Israeli power structure.

A trailer for “Gatekeepers” hasn’t been posted, but here’s an interesting video excerpt:

“Gatekeepers” video excerpt