An excellent film that won the World Documentary Jury Prize.
Below are the tweets I sent out about the film, most during or immediately after the Q&A.
THE LAW IN THESE PARTS shows the invisible people who laid the enabling legal foundations of Israel’s occupation. #hollow #Sundance
THE LAW IN THESE PARTS is the best doc so far at #Sundance. It changes–or should change–the entire Israel/Palestine conversation.
Dir. of THE LAW IN THESE PARTS sees “something in audience’s eyes that says, ‘I wish I hadn’t seen this. I wish I hadn’t come.'” #Sundance
THE LAW IN THESE PARTS brilliantly conceived, it incorporates the filmmaking process as visual meta-commentary on the topic. #Sundance
The film has been reviewed extensively online. Here’s an interesting review from the Jerusalem Post. From the article:
The Law in These Parts, a documentary film made by Ra’anan Alexandrowicz, was subject to criticism in Israel for its perceived negative portrayal of the country.
Critics who are worried about Israel’s reputation would do better to criticize Israel’s discriminatory and unjust laws and practices than criticize filmmakers who expose them. I have yet to read a critique of the film that claims any dishonesty on the part of the filmmakers.
Regarding the director saying that he sees something in some viewers’ eyes saying “I wish I hadn’t come,” he was referring to people whose barriers to seeing the truth about Israel’s policies were finally cracked open by the film. These same people might not be moved by the other Sundance favorite about Palestine 5 BROKEN CAMERAS.
With that film and others like it, e.g. previous Sundance film Budrus, it is easy for critics to say that it was edited to only show Israeli violence and not that of Palestinians. Or critics will say, “But what about the suicide bombers who kill civilians?” as if that somehow justifies what we’re seeing on screen, where Israeli soldiers are shooting and brutalizing nonviolent civilians far away in time and place from any bombing. The ideologues’ other favorite dodge is to focus on the kids and teenagers who throw rocks back at the soldiers after the soldiers start shooting, in an attempt to divert our attention from the illegal settlements being built, the land thefts, the human rights violations and live fire being used in front of us on screen.
When watching senior Israeli Army officials and judges, the ones who wrote the laws and delivered the rulings, the usual red herrings don’t fly and people simply have to confront the truth: the Israeli occupation of post-’67 lands is illegal, immoral and in violation of both international and Israeli law. And it needs to end.
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As an aside, I saw the film early in the Festival, loved it and predicted it to be a winner, saying this about it:
I’d put money on THE LAW IN THESE PARTS for (World) Documentary prize (…). But there are still many to see, so I might change my mind on that. THE LAW is a bit sophisticated and issue-specific in my opinion for an Audience Award, but its intellectual sophistication and cinematic genius make it deserving of the (World) Doc prize. It is also a film that will—or damn well should—change the conversation on the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine.
Unfortunately, bragging rights don’t work retroactively. I removed that statement after hearing tons of buzz about other films. Lesson: have more self-confidence next time.