I love the documentary program at TIFF. There are always some amazing films that may not see the light of general release but challenge us with new perspectives and ideas. This film is no exception. I saw it at the recently renovated Bloor Cinema, home of the Hot Docs Festival. It is a great venue and well worth the visit near Bathurst and Bloor. But enough of that – on to the movie.
It is an series of interviews with the current head of Shin Bet and five of his predecessors. Shin Bet is the successor to the Mossad, the Israeli secret service charged with preventing terrorist attacks within Israel and against Israelis. It is a highly effective agency as Israel has been incredibly successful at preventing attacks against its citizens. These men are stunningly open about what they have done and why and their own moral evaluation of what they do and have done. They are also apolitical, non-ideological and incredibly insightful, self-reflective and intelligent. The interviews are interspersed with video of the outcome of terrorist attacks and targeted strikes against the perpetrators. The film is not all about defence against the PLO, and later Hamas and Hezbollah but also about taking down Israeli conspiracies to kill hundreds of Palestinians and destroy the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.
The director was there and stayed for a Q and A after the film. He is a crusader for peace in the Middle East and his film has already had an effect. The men he interviewed were supportive of his efforts. Rather than right-wing ideologues dedicated to the destruction of Israel’s enemies they are much more complex. As one said, “When you have done what I have done, seen what I have seen, — when you leave, your politics are left wing”.
This film may have some international attention. It will feature at the New York City Film Festival later this fall and after that it would be great to see it in general release. See it if you can.