West of the Jordan River
Panorama | Documentaries
Israel and Palestine—no matter how many lives are lost or how many negotiations are attempted, the problem won’t go away. Amos Gitai, perhaps the most successful of all Israeli filmmakers, has addressed the conflict in numerous films; this one may be his most enlightening and moving. In it he returns to the occupied territories he documented in 1982 to see what has changed and what has not. He interviews politicians, journalists and activists, showing himself unafraid to challenge his subjects when necessary. But most striking and laudable are the street encounters. Everyday folk are given the chance to speak their minds, and the answers are by turns encouraging, discomfiting and downright dismaying.
What emerges overall, though, is a sense of hope, however tenuous. There are moments that show peace and bonding between the two sides, and some of the activism documented is truly inspiring. This is liberal filmmaking in the best sense: compassionate, generous and open to nuance. There are many voices to be heard and Gitai ensures that each of them becomes vital.
"Compelling… Gitai weaves together a surprisingly uplifting ode to tolerance and peace."—Nikki Baughan, Screen