Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The stories of Israel & Palestine converge in Dorman & Rudavsky's exceptional doc, COLLIDING DREAMS

One of the most memorable documentaries TrustMovies has seen during this new century was Joseph Dorman's wonderful Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness from 2011, so of course his interest was immediately piqued upon learning Dorman had a new doc arriving soon. It opens this week, in fact, and if it is not the triumphal, spirited blend of history, joy, sorrow and surprise that marked the earlier film, considering the subject matter of Dorman's new work, which he co-directed with Oren Rudavsky, this should come as no surprise.

COLLIDING DREAMS tackles nothing less than one of, if not the thorniest situations in the world today: the state of the State of Israel and the (as yet) non-State of Palestine. Dorman (shown at left) and Rudavsky (below, right) very wisely approach their subject via history rather than mere opinion or some godawful, religious-nut idea that "the Bible says we belong here," and this, more than anything else, I think, is the reason for their surprising success. The filmmakers do not ignore religion, nor its place in Jewish history, but neither do they give it undue credulity. Instead they weave their generally well-
chosen history with interviews (43 of them!) with both Arabs and Jews, including artists, educators, policy-makers and a number of men-(or women)-on-the-street. What this approach accomplishes best is to allow the audience the take in a large number of important ideas along the way, mull them over, and judge for themselves how they fit into Israel and Palestine's history then and now. (This is a film you may very well want and need to see more than once.) Colliding Dreams also places Zionism -- and what it has meant along the way from its creation until today -- front and center, allowing us to learn more about the various incarnations the idea has incorporated.

The play of history, Zionism, culture, religion, land and ownership is expressed better in this film that I have elsewhere seen, and if this sounds like I am calling the movie "fair and balanced," then so be it. Yet it is more than that. Whatever our "feelings" regarding Israel and Palestine, Colliding Dreams forces us to confront ideas that run counter to our own and then deal with them.

I hope that some audiences, at least, will be willing to do this. When one interviewee, a Palestinian, notes that Zionism did indeed unite the Jews, he adds that Zionism also must be judged by its effect on the local community.

Another speaker notes, later in the doc, how most "conquered" people behave after their conquest, and how this has not held true for the Palestinians. We learn of The Balfour Decclaration, the "peaceful violence" that led to more organized Arab resistance to the Jews, Jabotinsky and early nationalism, the rise of Hitler and the consequential increase in the number of Jewish immigrants to Palestine.

By the time we get to the Six-Day War (quite a different look at this subject than we got from the recent Censored Voices), we're tightly wrapped in the usual straight-jacket dilemma: The Jews have got to have a place they can call home. But what if that home already belonged to someone else?

What Dorman and Rudavsky want most, I suspect, is for us to be able to look at things from both sides. So often here people speak of their dreams as meaning their dearest wishes. When, at the end of the film, one of the speakers -- a man who has fought and killed Arabs over the course of his life -- introduces us to his Palestinian son-n-law, he explains that it is the passage of time that is most responsible for this turn of events.

That's why history turns out to be the best guide. Look at America and its black population. Look at the growing legitimacy of the GLBT community throughout much of the western world. Look at Catholic and Protestant Ireland a half century ago and today. Time is the great healer. But will most of us -- not to mention the world itself, what with climate change upon us -- be alive to witness the evolution of Israel and Palestine? Whatever: Dorman and Rudavsky's documentary is a fine and necessary step in this process.

Colliding Dreams -- from International Film Circuit and running a lengthy but invaluable two hours and fifteen minutes -- opens this Friday, March 4, in New York City at the Lincoln Plaza Cinema and in the Los Angeles area at Laemmle's Royal and Town Center and at the Edwards' Westpark 8 in Irvine. The following Friday, March 11, it opens here in South Florida at the AMC Aventura; the Living Room Theaters, and Regal Shadowood in Boca Raton; the Movies of Delray and Movies of Lake Worth;  To view all currently scheduled playdates and theatres/cities, simply click here.

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