by Ken Korman
Those who find the seemingly intractable, decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict hard to fathom would do well to see The Gatekeepers, Israeli filmmaker Dror Moreh’s insightful and Oscar-nominated documentary. Moreh obtained unprecedented access to the six surviving former heads of the Shin Bet, the Israeli Secret Service charged with defending the state against terrorism. Over the course of 97 minutes, each speaks with remarkable candor about the many shades of grey involved with fighting terrorists who use the same term to describe the Israelis, as well as the internal political realities that somehow always seem to work against the possibility of meaningful peace in the region.
The film’s videogame-style CGI re-enactments of Israeli military operations add a needlessly artificial element. But Moreh must have been concerned about the cumulative effect of basing his entire film on footage of elderly men sitting and sharing personal interpretations of historic events. He need not have worried — his interview subjects’ gradual and hard-won acceptance of the need for a two-state solution to the conflict is powerful enough enough to carry the film. And it resonates far beyond the Middle East for those ready to accept hard lessons from decades of frustration and disappointment.
The Gatekeepers screens through Thursday, March 28 at The Theatres at Canal Place. More info here.