With two foreign documentaries making the cut this year, “The Gatekeepers” is probably the strongest of the two as far as the Academy is concerned. Both have a strong political front, with “5 Broken Cameras” shot guerrilla style while “The Gatekeepers” stays grounded in interviews and format, even breaking the film into chapters. Perhaps I related more with “5 Broken Cameras”, because it was an average man on the front lines, with the viewer placed right alongside him. Similar to how I felt during the film “Restrepo” (2010), it made the viewer feel like you were getting a once in a lifetime glimpse into an unfamiliar world and “The Gatekeepers” has much less of that element to keep it interesting. Personal preference aside, among critics/experts, this film is ranked somewhere in the middle, with “Searching for Sugar Man” and “How To Survive A Plague” landing mostly above it. This is the first nomination for all those involved.
Powerfully candid and sincere, “The Gatekeepers” opens the door of the Shin Bet, Israel’s secret service, and airs all of its dirty laundry, but what truly makes it remarkable is that the men being interviewed are all former heads of the Shin Bet. Creative in its design of format for an informative documentary, the filmmaker delivers graphics and animated reenactments that immerse the viewer in the stories. Drawing ties to what our secret agencies may also be up to, it is uncanny how much of this resonates into our lives, even if the events being focused on have no real relation to the U.S. besides peace talks headed by the Clinton administration. As intriguing as the film is, take away the graphics and wonderfully sound designed actual footage and what you have is talking heads, which, not ideal, still makes for some attention grabbing material.
// Produced by Dror Moreh, Philippa Kowarsky, & Estelle Fialon // Directed by Dror Moreh //
// Dated Viewed: Thursday, February 7th, 2013 // THE LANDMARK // 13 films – 18 days //