The Gatekeepers” an Amazing Window on Israel.

Ami Ayalon, now in the Israeli Knesset.

Ami Ayalon, now in the Israeli Knesset.

In the week when the new Swedish gov­ern­ment announced its inten­tion to rec­og­nize the state of Pales­tine, and after the back bench British MPs made a sim­i­lar show of pub­lic sup­port, last weekend’s screen­ing of the BBC Sto­ryville doc­u­men­tary The Gate­keep­ers made for time­ly viewing.

This is one of those films that you feel you ought to watch, rather than one you actu­al­ly want to see. And like so many of those, it turns out to be absolute­ly riveting.

Direct­ed by the Israeli Dror Moreh, who was inspired by Errol Mor­ris’ extra­or­di­nar­i­ly reveal­ing inter­view of Robert S. McNa­ma­ra for The Fog Of War, The Gate­keep­ers is an extend­ed inter­view with the last six heads of the Israeli secret ser­vice, the Shin Bet. Remark­ably, it’s every bit as reveal­ing as the film that inspired it.

The remarkable Rodriguez.

The remark­able Rodriguez.

For the last 35 years, these six men have been in charge of Israel’s inter­nal secu­ri­ty. And watch­ing them grap­ple with their con­sciences whilst bemoan­ing the refusal of lead­ers on either side to seri­ous­ly engage with their oppo­site num­ber was fas­ci­nat­ing, depress­ing and ulti­mate­ly some­how hopeful.

If only, you couldn’t help but feel, it had been some of these men who’d been run­ning the coun­try instead of the ones who were actu­al­ly elect­ed. One of them has indeed now joined the Knes­set. We can only hope. The mes­sage from all six of them was unan­i­mous. We must engage. We need to talk. You can’t secure the state of Israel with­out acknowl­edg­ing the fate of the Palestinians.

Muscle Shoals.

Mus­cle Shoals.

This is yet anoth­er in an ever more impres­sive ros­tra of docs form the Sto­ryville team. If you haven’t already, watch Search­ing for Sug­ar Man (reviewed ear­li­er here), Mus­cle Shoals (here) or the amaz­ing and sober­ing The House I Live In (here). In fact you can pret­ty much watch any one of their films. It’s the most con­sis­tent­ly impres­sive strand of doc­u­men­tary film mak­ing any­where in the world. You can see the Gate­keep­ers trail­er here.

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