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Films


Film Reviews

The following films have been reviewed by CAMERA staff. We will continue to post new film reviews here, so check back periodically. Reviews are listed alphabetically.

Anti-Semitism in the 21st Century (2007)
The Resurgence
Distributed by PBS
Produced and Directed by: Andrew Goldberg
60 minutes

This documentary, which premiered on PBS stations in January 2007, includes a rare examination of the vicious depictions and dehumanization of Jews in Arab TV shows, cartoons and speeches delivered to millions of Muslims all over the world via satellite TV and the Internet.  Full Review 

Avoiding Armageddon (2003)
Episode 3: The New Face of Terrorism—Upping the Ante
Ted Turner Documentaries
Produced by: Frank Sesno and Chris Guarino
120 minutes

CNN founder and media mogul Ted Turner recently turned his interest to documentary film making, establishing a new company with CNN co-founder Robert Wussler (Ted Turner Documentaries). The first product, two years in the making, is an 8-hour series about weapons of mass destruction and terrorism hosted by the venerable elder statesman of TV news, Walter Cronkite."The New Face of Terrorism: Upping the Ante" is the third film in the series which aired on four consecutive nights in April 2003 on PBS.  Full Review 

Campus Battleground (2007)
Quest Productions for WETA/Washington, D.C.
Distributed by PBS: America at the Crossroads
Produced and Directed by: Bill Jersey
Executive Producer: William Free
55 minutes

This documentary, which premiered on PBS stations on November 27, 2007, reports on the clash on campus between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel activists, but is marred by crucial omissions and lack of context. Full Review

Checkpoint (2003)
Amythos Films & Eden Productions, with the assistance of The New Israeli Foundation for Cinema & Television & Noga Communications
Directed by: Yoav Shamir
Produced by: Amit Breuer
Hebrew / Arabic / English; English subtitles
80 minutes

Checkpoint is one of a group of films funded by The New Foundation for Cinema and TV that document the difficult circumstances under which the Palestinians live and hold Israel alone responsible for those circumstances. Byfailing to explain how Israeli measures came about as a defensive response to Palestinian terrorist attacks,Checkpoint serves to diminish rather than buildunderstandingof the Arab-Israeli conflict.  Full Review

Confrontation @ Concordia (2003)
Produced and Directed by: Martin Himel
47 minutes

In September 2002, pro-Palestinian activists at Concordia University in Montreal resorted to force and intimidation to prevent former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from speaking on campus. The shocking incident was captured on tape and featured in the documentary Confrontation @ Concordia which aired in May and July 2003 on Global TV.  Full Review 

Décryptage (2002)
Directed by: Jacques Tarnero and Philippe Bensoussan
French with English subtitles
100 minutes

Décryptage, or "Decoding" in English, caused a sensation when it debuted in France in 2002, filling theaters with (often mostly Jewish) patrons dismayed at media treatment of Israel, "the epicenter of a world passion," as one of the film’s interviewees put it. American audiences too will find a riveting, thoughtful and relevant portrayal of how the Arab-Israeli conflict is presented. Full Review 

Defamation (2009)
Directed by: Yoav Shamir
English and Hebrew
91 minutes

Israeli filmmaker Yoav Shamir promotes distorted and hateful views about Israel and the Jewish people in a film that alleges Jews exaggerate anti-Semitism and exploit the Holocaust to excuse Israeli aggression.. Full Review

Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs (2005)
A BBC/PBS Documentary
Produced and Directed by: Norma Percy
150 minutes

As with so many previous BBC documentaries on the Middle East, "Elusive Peace," is yet another wasted opportunity. As in its tendentious predecessors, Palestinian officials like Saeb Erekat are trotted out over and over again as disappointed peacemakers, and their late boss, Yasir Arafat, is sympathetically portrayed as the oppressed embodiment of his people, one of the leaders who, according to the documentary’s page on the BBC website, “strove to create peace.” Full Review

Heart of Jenin (2009)
A PBS Wide Angle Documentary
Produced and Directed by:
Leon Geller and Markus Vetter
51 minutes

The film tells the story ofa Palestinian father's decision to donate the organs of his son, who, while brandishing a toy gun, had been shot by Israeli troops after they mistook him for a terrorist. The film records Ismail Khatib's poignant encounters with the Druze, Beduin and Jewish families whose children received the organs.  Full Review

Impact of Terror (2004)
Directed by: Tim Wolochatiuk
Associated Producers
52 minutes

"Impact of Terror" is a moving documentary about Israeli victims of terror struggling to cope in the aftermath of the Aug. 9, 2001 Sbarro pizzeria bombing in Jerusalem. It effectively maps out the victims’ scars –both physical and emotional – and humanizes the personal struggles of individuals who are often unnamed in news reports and relegated to casualty counts. Full Review 

In the Line of Fire (2001)
(revised 2002)
Reported and Produced by: Patricia Naylor
CBC Version (2001)  47 minutes
PBS Version (2002)  20 minutes

In March 2003, PBS broadcast "In the Line of Fire," an updated and abridged version of a longer CBC documentary aired in 2001 about journalists in the Israeli-Palestinian battle zone.  Canadian film-maker Patricia Naylor focused her narrow lens on now-old allegations by Palestinian journalists Mazen Dana, Nael Shyouki and others who claimed they were directly targeted by Israeli fire.  Full Review

Inside Israel's Army (2009)
Produced by Michal Zilberman and Michele Mitchell
Hosted by David Brancaccio
NOW on PBS
24 minutes

Inside Israel's Army profiles the views and experiences of three Israeli reservists who served in the war in Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2009. Correspondent Michele Mitchell and producer Michal Zilberman produced an excellent piece of journalism by handling their interviews in a non-judgmental manner while ensuring adherence to factual accuracy.  Full Review

Jimmy Carter Man from Plains (2007)
Sony Pictures
Written and Directed by: Jonathan Demme
125 minutes

It is little surprise that director Jonathan Demme did not ask difficult questions about the controversial book on which this documentary centers, Jimmy Carter's Palestine: Peace not Apartheid. When asked by an NPR interviewer why he made the movie, he replied that it was in part because Carter is “an American who I have great admiration for.” In the end, it’s hard to disagree with the Washington Post’s assessment of the film as “largely hagiographic.” This isn’t the critical examination it could have been, and those hoping for the answers to — or even the asking of — difficult questions will surely be disappointed.   Full Review

 

Jenin, Jenin (2002)
Directed by:  Mohammed Bakri
Arabic with English Subtitles
54 minutes*
(*Other versions of Jenin, Jenin are reportedly 79 minutes long and 49 minutes. In the wake of criticism of the film, Bakri has admitted to shortening the film.)

The flim review is combined with that of "Road to Jenin." In "The Road to Jenin," filmmaker Pierre Rehov's clear purpose is to expose the inflammatory–and defamatory–falsehoods spread by works like Jenin, Jenin. As such his film does not attempt to be an overview of the Israeli and Palestinian experience in Jenin or an exhaustive account of IDF conduct. Nevertheless, the information that Rehov does provide is based on interviewees who use bona fide images and documents to substantiate their claims. Full Review 

Munich (2005)
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Written by Tony Kushner, Eric Roth
English, German, Italian, French
163 minutes

Briefly, the movie presents, via pulse-pounding scenes of kidnaping, death, stalking and more death, the message that Israel was brutal, bungling and immoral in its reaction to the massacre. True, the hostage-takers were also brutal; but dispossessing Palestinians, we soon learn, lies at the root. Full Review 

My Terrorist (2002)
Produced and Directed by Yulie Cohen Gerstel
English, Hebrew with English subtitles, Color
58 minutes

"My Terrorist" chronicles the personal journey of the filmmaker from victim of a terrorist attack to advocate for the jailed perpetrator. Gerstel's campaign to free Mihyi serves as the vehicle for her to promote the political agenda she shares with her mentor, Ha'aretz columnist Gideon Levy who also appears in the film. They believe that Palestinians should not be blamed for any action, no matter how heinous. Full Review 

Occupation 101 (2007)
Written, Directed, and Produced by Sufyan Omeish and Abdallah Omeish
English
90 minutes

A blanket excusal of Palestinian violence introduces "Occupation 101" and sets the tone for the film. What follows is ninety minutes of indoctrination by a who’s who of anti-Israel activists that falsely equates the Palestinian cause with civil rights struggles around the world. Full Review 

 

One Day in September (1999)
Directed by Kevin Macdonald
Narrated by Michael Douglas
English, German, B&W, Color
94 minutes

1999 Academy Award winner for Best Documentary

There has been much publicity surrounding Steven Spielberg’s 2005 film, "Munich," which blurs the line between historical fiction and real events to tell the story of an Israeli hit team’s hunt for the planners and perpetrators of the 1972 Olympic massacre of Israeli athletes, casting doubt on the morality of counter-terrorist activity. By contrast, Academy Award winning "One Day in September" focuses on the massacre itself recounting the events of that day and their impact through live film clips, news broadcasts and interviews with police, close relatives of victims, and the sole surviving perpetrator. Full Review 

Palestine is Still the Issue (2002)
Written and Presented by: John Pilger
53 minutes

Australian-born, London-based journalist and filmmaker John Pilger does not pretend to deliver an objective view of his subject matter. In Pilger’s world, events are seen through a lens in which America and Israel are foremost villains. And Pilger's 2002 film, "Palestine is Still the Issue," is devoted to villifying Israel as a terrorist state. Full Review

Peace and Prosperity in the West Bank? (2009)
Produced by Michal Zilberman and Michele Mitchell
Hosted by David Brancaccio
NOW on PBS
24 minutes

In Peace and Prosperity in the West Bank, producers Brian Epstein, Brenda Breslauer and correspondent Mona Iskander examine progress in the West Bank town of Jenin, which has been selected as a key location forstarting to build a new Palestinian statewith theguidance of Middle East envoy Tony Blair.   Full Review

Suicide Killers (2006)
Directed by Pierre Rehov
English, Hebrew, Arabic with English subtitles, Color
80 minutes

The roots of evil are unfathomable — yet they must be understood in order to be confronted. In his seventh documentary, French filmmaker Pierre Rehov takes on this seemingly impenetrable topic, investigating the motives and driving forces behind the attackers through interviews with psychologists, terrorism experts, family members, victims, and most compellingly, with failed and would-be suicide killers themselves. Full Review 

The Fifty Year War: Israel and the Arabs (1998)
A PBS/WGBH/BBC Film
Produced by PBS, Zvi Dor-Ner, Brian Lapping, Norma Percy
Directed by David Ash, Dai Richards, Michael Simkin and Charlie Smith
300 minutes

This documentary——created by PBS for the 50th anniversary of the State of Israel——attempts an even-handed study of the relationship and conflicts between Israelis and Arabs. The joint BBC-WGBH production traces the turbulent events of the last half century since the founding of the modern nation of Israel, presented from the vantage of statesmen, military experts and individuals involved in key events. Full Review

The Forgotten Refugees (2005)
Directed by Michael Grynzspan
Produced by The David Project and IsraTV
English, Color
49 minutes

The Forgotten Refugees explores the history and destruction of Middle Eastern Jewish communities, some of which had existed for over 2,500 years.Featuring testimony from Jews who fled Egypt, Libya, Iraq, Yemen, Morocco and Iran, the film explores the rich heritage and destruction of the Middle East’s age-old Jewish communities. Personal stories of refugees are interspersed with dramatic archival footage, including the mission to rescue Yemenite Jews.  Full Review 

The Inner Tour (2001)
Directed by Ra'anan Alexandrowicz
Arabic,Hebrew with English subtitles, Color
94 minutes

"The Inner Tour" follows a group of Palestinians on a three-day bus tour in Israel. Each participant recounts his or her tale of personal loss. Israelis are depicted as interlopers and colonizers. By narrowing his focus to the personal feelings of the travelers and injecting no corrective commentary, challenge or background information, the director gives viewers a severely skewed picture of a complex and difficult subject. Full Review 

The Long Way Home (1997)
Directed by Mark Jonathan Harris
Narrated by Morgan Freeman
English, B&W, Color
120 minutes

1997 Academy Award winner for Best Documentary

"The Long Way Home," is about the heroic effort to re-establish the Jewish homeland in the wake of the European Holocaust. The film highlights the personal accounts of several survivors, tying them into the larger narrative of events in postwar Europe and Palestine and documents the unflagging efforts of others who helped them rebuild their lives in Palestine in the face of callous indifference by the international community.  Full Review 

The Road to Jenin (2002)
Directed by: Pierre Rehov
English, Arabic, Hebrew and French with English subtitles
53 minutes

The flim review is combined with that of "Jenin, Jenin." In "The Road to Jenin," filmmaker Pierre Rehov's clear purpose is to expose the inflammatory–and defamatory–falsehoods spread by works like "Jenin, Jenin." As such his film does not attempt to be an overview of the Israeli and Palestinian experience in Jenin or an exhaustive account of IDF conduct. Nevertheless, the information that Rehov does provide is based on interviewees who use bona fide images and documents to substantiate their claims. Full Review 

The Silent Exodus (2004)
Directed by: Pierre Rehov
English, French with English subtitles
59 minutes

Rehov interviews several prominent scholars and survivors of the Arab pogroms including Bat Ye'or, the scholar who introduced the concept of "dhimmitude" (the legal and social conditions of Jews and Christians subjected to Islamic rule) into the lexicon. They vividly elucidate the circumstances precipitating the departure of these Jews from their longtime homes. Full Review 

Writers on the Borders (2004)
Directed by Samir Abdullah and Jose Reynes
Arabic, French and Hebrew with English Subtitles
80 minutes

"Writers on the Borders," commissioned by the International Parliament of Writers (IPW) and directed by two anti-Israel activists is essentially a propaganda film designed to inflame public opinion against Israel. The film likens Israel to the South African apartheid state, compares Israelis to Nazis and presents Palestinians as tragic and blameless victims of Israeli brutality. Full Review