Hoping Israel’s Oscar-Nominated Film Loses
02/22/2013 - 11:28
Gary Rosenblatt

I’m not rooting for “The Gatekeepers” to win the Academy Award Sunday night for Best Documentary.

The compelling film, by Israeli director Dror Moreh, is based on separate interviews with six former directors of the Shin Bet who criticize Israeli policy, or lack of one, on the Palestinian front. The men are of different ages and personalities, but they agree that successive Israeli political leaders approached the issue tactically rather than strategically, and the viewer is left with the impression that it was Israel’s fault that peace has not been achieved. What’s more, all six seem quite pessimistic about the future.

Moreh has acknowledged in interviews that his politics are dovish, and one can make the case that he skews his film to the left, based on what he includes and what he chooses to leave out, like the ongoing hostility and violence from the Palestinian side and their rejection of all Israeli proposals.

Oscar experts say “The Gatekeepers” is a long shot to win, in part because one of the other five nominated documentaries, “5 Broken Cameras,” is quite similar in theme and point of view, and the two might cancel each other out.

That film, directed by Emad Burnat, a Palestinian, and Guy Davidi, an Israeli, has a Palestinian perspective, focusing on how Palestinians use cameras to photograph alleged abuses by the Israeli army in the occupied territories.

I haven’t seen “5 Broken Cameras,” but I did see “The Gatekeepers,” and while those on the left will say that it makes them proud to see how open and introspective the former Shin Bet directors are, and how proud we can be of a vibrantly democratic Israeli society, those on the right will cringe to see Israel beat up again, on a global platform.

I think of “The Gatekeepers” as a full-length trigger film, an opening for subsequent conversation and debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, especially effective in Israel, where the issues are well known. But I worry about the film’s impact on American audiences who know little of the history and context of the issues seen and discussed on screen.

In any event, I’m rooting for “Searching For Sugar Man” to win for Best Documentary, a remarkable piece of research and film making about an obscure musician from Detroit in the 1960s who became a cult-like popular hero in South Africa. And the less you know of the story going into the theater the more you’ll enjoy the twists and turns when you leave.


view counter

Add comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Comment Guidelines

The Jewish Week feels comments create a valuable conversation and wants to feature your thoughts on our website. To make everyone feel welcome, we won't publish comments that are profane, irrelevant, promotional or make personal attacks.


i've seen the movie and as i left the theater i wondered about what snips of film might have been cut out that might have given a different end impression. was anything deleted by the film's producer that might have shown questions that didn't get the answers his agenda wanted? i would like to see the films "outtakes" to get answers to my question.

Don't you find that in the Jewish Psyche, as in yours Gary, there is a fine line between the fantasy,wishful desire of what you want Israel to be, and the reality of what it is ? That looks very apparent in the way you describe this film and how you express your discomfort, that those experienced ,doing, living contributors to what Israel has been doing and continue to do ,is not good enough to you as being the truth about the situation, in Israel and occupied Palestine. You rather want the fantasy image to prevail over and above the life experience of those loyal, trusted ,on the grounds experts ,whom actually carried out and lived daily what they have described in this film. Does that say anything to you and the others Jews who hold the same sentiment as you? Holding our heads in the sand is not as safe and comfortable as you might think. Or is it just me, as you might want to dismiss it?