Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

Oscar Watch: 'The Gatekeepers' Pops the Lid Off the Israeli/Arab Conflict, Dror Moreh Q & A (VIDEO)

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood January 31, 2013 at 1:57PM

Things aren't getting any easier in the Middle East. Filmmaker Dror Moreh decided to look at the Israeli/Palestine conflict from another angle. He went to the six living men who have run Shin Bet, Israel's Secret Service, from 1980 through 2011. Backed by Israel, France, Germany and Belgium, "The Gatekeepers" was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics and has been a hit on the festival circuit.
'The Gatekeepers'
'The Gatekeepers'

AT: What about the oldest guy [Avraham Shalom]?

DM: He was the toughest guy. He was the hardest.

AT: He was the money get. He was ruthless and brutal and bitter and smart.  They each had strength, wiliness and political acumen. That one though, he scared me.

DM: Ooh no no. I like him very much, he was one of the most intelligent of them all, one of the most left wing of them all. You know that after the screening in Jerusalem, he wanted to speak. Avraham Shalom is someone who personifies for me the Jewish voyage, and only 2% of the interviews were inside the movie. One of the most hard things I took off from the movie was his childhood story. He was born in Vienna in 1930, he grew up as a boy, he saw Hitler coming into Vienna, he was on the balcony as a boy seeing Hilter, he was beaten after that by his classmate as a Jewish person and felt firsthand what it means to be a Jew in a racist society. And when he says we are treating Palestinians the same way that the Germans treated the Jews in 1938… He wasn't in the Holocaust, his father managed to get him out on the first day of the Second World War, but he says that he witnessed first hand what racism means.

AT: In the photographs when he's young and vibrant he radiated power.

DM: He was a security guy. Everybody talked about him with great respect and great feeling, all the heads they said he was terrifying.

AT:  That's the thing, it's such a paradox, as the right wing and religious groups are the counter-force against everything you want to do. We feel that in in this country as well.

DM: You have it here also, in the South.

AT: Were you expecting the reaction you got in North America?

DM: No, I was overwhelmed and blown away. The response is amazing and I'm interested in politics. A lot of what shapes our world, what shapes us through the smallest parts of our being, our existence, is politicians. We give them so much power.

AT: But we expect them to take care of us, to give us leadership and direction. What you describe is this rudderless ship with no one taking responsibility.

DM: There is nothing that I will agree more with Ami Avalon said. When he was young his parents said in Jerusalem there is a place where there is a corridor and there is a door and behind the door this is a wise man who is thinking for me, and when he grew up he went into that place and saw that there is no door and behind there there was no one thinking.

AT:  They agreed that no politician that could be trusted. When are you going to show this in Israel?

DM: We are thinking about this for a long time.

AT: You have found such credibility, such authority. Some of us want someone to do the American version, the heads of the CIA. Might is not right.

DM: The response I got from Jews: 'you know if you release this, over time when they speak those words they say, you will be considered anti-Semitic.'

AT: Many Jewish Liberal Americans don't like to criticize Israel.

DM: There is a lawyer here, I met this wife, she came to me and said, 'I saw your movie. Israel is right.' I said, 'you don't understand: if you don't criticize Israel you are doing wrong to Israel.'

AT: It must have been hard to edit this down.

DM: It was. You can take movies in so many directions especially with six people speaking in interviews.

AT: You had a lot. You can put it online.

DM: First I will release the book, first of all going to be a book, at the beginning of next year.

This article is related to: Documentary, Documentaries, Sony Pictures Classics

E-Mail Updates

Festivals on TOH

Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.