Filmed largely during a lull in most recent Palestinian Intifada, this insightful, unbiased and very personal documentary explores the lives and opinions of seven Israeli and Palestinian children (all 8 to 13 years old) who live disparate existences only a few miles apart in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Israeli-American filmmaker B.Z. Goldberg (along with two partners) takes his video camera to refugee camps and suburban homes, visiting a Muslim boy who works in his father's coffee shop under the watchful eye of billyclub-swinging Israeli soldiers, two Jewish twins who disagree on the rights of Palestinians, the hopeful daughter of a journalist being held without charges (two years and counting) in a distant Israeli prison, a brilliantly articulate Hasidic boy, and others -- many of whom have had young friends killed by terrorists or over-zealous soldiers.
The kids' fear, antipathy, curiosity, empathy -- often all rolled into one -- make a fascinating microcosm of the conflict, and the film's simple but thorough historical and cultural context makes a great primer for understanding the issues and stakes that make the Israeli-Palestinian conflict such a quagmire. A simple but astonishingly powerful film.
THE FILM: ****
-- By Rob Blackwelder