Thursday, June 30, 2011

Stranger Than Fiction: Between Two Worlds

Between Two Worlds
Directed by Alan Snitow & Deborah Kaufman
Showing June 30 at 6pm & 8pm

Showing tonight at the IFC Center as part of the Stranger Than Fiction documentary series is "Between Two Worlds," an examination of the value of dissent and unpopular speech among members of the Jewish community when it comes to positions on Israel. Filmmakers Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman begin with the unrest caused by the screening of a film about pro-Palestinian activist Rachel Corrie, who was killed by an Israeli bulldozer while protesting in Gaza, at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. This invocation, coupled with other subsequent references, is intended to turn commonly-accepted conflicts on their heads. What's discomforting about the way Snitow and Kaufman present their thesis is that, in stressing the importance of having those with less popular beliefs be heard, they risk doing exactly what one interviewee towards the start of the film argues that "Rachel" does, quoting Natan Sharansky: "demonization, double standards, and delegitimization." In the aim of fair play, Snitow and Kaufman ignore just what the "louder side" stresses so much, which is that, while questions should be asked and investigations should occur, placing all blame on Israel without holding other countries, governments, and groups accountable for their actions in the same or similar conflicts isn't right. It goes beyond any political stance - the filmmakers here are not presenting the balanced picture they intend to, instead slanting to one side by featuring it much more prominently because it feels more revolutionary and progressive. There are moments at which "Between Two Worlds" rings very true, but its failure to be just as discerning with its subjects as those it attempts to condemn is disappointing. I do always advocate seeing something for yourself before judging it, so in that sense it's worth a look, but it's just as incomplete and irresponsible as it is informative.

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