Raindance Film Festival – Review – A People Without A Land ★★★

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The Israel-Palestine crisis is one that has been endlessly discussed and shown in the media as one of eternal military and political conflict. This has divided many people globally on the Israel state’s existence and the treatment of the Palestinian populace. Such is the much discussed issue it’s difficult to bring a new perspective on resolving this crisis, but this is the main strength of A People Without A Land.

This documentary tackles the issue directly by addressing those directly affected by the implementation of the Israeli state on both sides of the cultural and religious spectrum. Its prologue sets out to define what Israel stands for and its political paradigm; in short, it argues its functionality is that of an ethno-democracy rather than a civil-democracy.

Filmmaker Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon conducts this documentary by interviewing those of various social backgrounds, which include military, political advisers and civilians, from both sides of the conflict. This choice attempts to dissipate a one-sided argument that can easily be forged and ensures both sides have representatives that aren’t populated by fanatics or extremists. Some of the views expressed are extreme but this is understandable given the hot political subject matter.

As the narrative of the documentary progresses, with reoccurring visuals of the Israel and Palestine geographical map evolving throughout the 20th Century to present-day, it begins to offer solutions and shifts from an “us & them” argument to a humanitarian, liberal and tolerant argument under a two or one state solution. This builds to a bittersweet conclusion that offers in equal parts optimistic answers and further questioning.

It’s clear Ungar-Sargon wasn’t interested in offering his own critical analysis or recapping much of what has already been discussed, but its intent is in a hope to bring about resolution and truly question how each state, mostly the Israel state for they hold a greater amount of power, views itself and the other. There are moments of extremism from both sides which can lead to viewers questioning the filmmakers’ ideological intention, but it’s clear he has kept this as far back as one can, considering the circumstances. It is a difficult subject matter to tackle but this is done with ease, confidence and intellect.

Matthew Lee is an undergraduate student in the field of Film Studies at King's College London and a freelance film critic with keen interests in World Cinema, Cult Cinema and Silent Cinema.