August 31, 2006


Reviewer: Craig Phillips
Rating (out of 5): ****

I originally saw the truly marvelous documentary Promises at San Francisco's Jewish Film Festival a few years ago and then saw it again on the recently released DVD, and found it both times to be nothing less than one of the most moving documentaries of the last few years. It a crucial film, too, given the seemingly never-ending, tragic war between Israelis and Palestinians, and the lack of truth we receive from the evening news and the leaders of both groups. The film depicts both sides of the struggle and the daily violence they all must live with through the eyes of the children, who, sadly, are all susceptible to the propaganda spouted by their parents. Some of them also show enough of an individualist spark to give us all hope, but where they likely would have never crossed paths or acknowledged their counterparts on the "other side," the filmmakers B.Z. Goldberg (who is the on-screen presence), Justine Shapiro and Carlos Bolado took the bold step of bringing them together. The parents of the more open-minded of the Israelis, brothers Yarko and Daniel, warily allow them to accompany the filmmakers to meet the similarly athletically inclined Faraj, a short ride away but many worlds apart, in an eye-opening (for the Israelis and for us) meeting in a Palestinian refugee camp. The gathering is intensely moving, giving us hope for the future even if the headlines often make us feel the hope is short-lived. Promises manages to do what many other documents of the Middle East have not: illuminate without preaching and manipulating.

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Posted by cphillips at August 31, 2006 12:16 PM | TrackBack
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