Adam Hootnick’s Unsettled will not bring peace to the Middle East, but the documentary’s goodwill is a corrective to Morgan Spurlock’s repulsive Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? Hootnick panders in a way to young, Western sensibilities, allowing lengthy stretches of the film to play to the music of Matisyahu and presenting his subjects as if they were participants in a Gaza Strip edition of MTV’s The Real World, but he does not resort to glibness or misrepresentation (unlike M.C. Hammer, recently sampled by Spurlock, the acclaimed Matisyahu grapples with his Jewish identity through his reggae). When the Israeli government announced that it would withdraw from the Gaza Strip, Hootnick was there with his camera, revealing his understanding for how people are split along ideological lines and bringing that level of feeling to his audience. Subjects include Neta, a young filmmaker who believes in the Jews’ God-given right to settle in Gaza, Ye’ela, an activist whose sister was killed by Palestinians but who nonetheless supports the withdrawal, and soldiers Yuval and Tamar, whose mission pits them against fellow Jews. Hootnick focuses on the way Jews are divided among themselves, in a sense offering the Muslim world examples of Jewish humanity, and through heartbreaking visions of Jewish families being removed from homes they’ve occupied for decades, he may just induce empathy in Jews who’ve supported the expulsion of Palestinians from their ostensibly holy land.
- Resonance Pictures
- 80 min
- Adam Hootnick
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