Timing can sometimes be of great help to explain particular political conflicts; last week’s death of former Israel President and Nobel prize winner Shimon Peres gives useful insight on the constant divide that perpetrates the everlasting Israelo-Palestinian conflict between the Western world and the Arab world. The West mourned a man they held in high esteem, Arab countries remembered one with a legacy of destruction.
THE OCCUPATION OF THE AMERICAN MIND (2015, LORETTA ALPER & JEREMY EARP) tackles the American perception of this very conflict by trying to explain the country’s inclination towards Israel’s camp throughout all of its duration. Nationwide representation of the conflict it is, siding with their long time allies by portraying them as THE victims of the conflict (referring to terrorist attacks by Hamas), thus justifying their attacks on Palestinian beaches and hospitals (and illegal occupation of Palestinian and other Arab land) as self-defence.
The documentary’s subject is an obvious one, calling out the Israeli’s prolonged disrespect of Palestinians’ human rights, and so is its form, respecting sober talking heads conventions. Shots of newspapers with highlighted words, excerpts from broadcast news – anchors and event coverage, scholars and NPO representatives speaking to the camera, all of this tied together with the unnecessary celebrity narration of Roger Waters. Everything here screams TV documentary, yet THE OCCUPATION lasts a whole 85 minutes, a long, long 85 minutes. Don’t get me wrong, this film’s mission is noble, but it dispenses its information in a very repetitive way and doesn’t captivate for long periods with its dull form. I’ve heard a 45 minutes version is currently being broadcasted on various national televisions, this is probably for the better.
There is not a lot to say about THE OCCUPATION OF THE AMERICAN MIND because of its straightforward approach both in form and content. This creative choice is somehow understandable when considering how ill informed the American public is to the Israelo-Palestinian conflict. Even through an era of effervescence in the world of communications, Israel’s government manages to maintain a good public image in the West. Every step towards justice is worth the effort.
Be sure to check out Cinema Politica’s next screening THE LAST OMELETTE: THE MAKING OF “THE LAND OF THE ENLIGHTENED”, a special collaboration with FNC this Friday at 19:00. A discussion on this making of of a docufiction about Afghan kids trying to live through wartime will be held afterwards.