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Canada, 1991 (MIFF 1992, Documentaries)

Director: Simcha Jacobovici

The Intifada, Israel's occupied territories. This is a world of Israeli soldiers, Palestini­an child-warriors and CNN news crews, with politicians and rabble rousers on both sides.

The particular genius of Deadly Currents is not to take sides. No glib 'sound bites', no pat solutions, no easily righteous pointing of accusatory fingers. It's the first completely independent documentary on the Israeli-Pales­tinian deadlock; it sweeps you into the streets of Tel Aviv and Nablus and lets you see and hear the high-voltage reality for yourself.

The film has no narrator, no interpretative voice-over. Quite often if s impossible to tell if we're watching an Israeli or a Palestinian until the caption flashes on to the screen. No sooner are we tugged into sympathy with one view­point than we are jolted into ambivalence or revulsion; each 'side' has its firebrands, fanat­ics, voices of reason and unexpected visionar­ies. No one has a moral monopoly in this film.

Deliberately, Jacobovici brought forward men and women we are not used to seeing in the Western media. He has obtained remark­ably candid interviews with Palestinians and Israelis of all classes, and disturbing footage of Palestinian guerrillas, their faces covered by red keffiyehs, carrying out counter-attacks on the streets of Nablus. Street-performer Juliano Mor douses himself in blood-red paint, screaming at his transfixed audience. The cyni­cal son of a Jewish mother and an Arab father, he single-handedly embodies all the impossi­ble contradictions of the Middle East. Yet the radical disenchantment that he and a handful of others express is weirdly exhilarating. One senses a possibility of hope, of pragmatic rec­onciliation, only in those who have renounced all ideology.

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