Paradise Now at the VIFF
I'm of two minds about all this, though. It's probably a good thing that there is greater sympathy towards what Palestinians experience during the occupation, since they've been excluded from public awareness and regarded as crazy, savage, bloodthirsty murderers for so long. It's probably not a bad thing that Palestinians have the ability to voice their cause to so wide an audience, either. The film seems a little less than honest, though, in downplaying hatred against Jews, religious extremism, and the attraction to violence that some people feel as part of the overall picture, though; it pretends that anti-Semitism and Islamic extremism don't even exist, but they do. In motivating its characters to do what they do, and ensuring that the audience can sympathize with them, the film comes dangerously close to justifying them. Israel, meanwhile, is pretty much made invisible, save in its role as oppressor. It's guaranteed to ruffle feathers. I guess Warner Brothers is counting on that -- in the post-9/11, Michael-Moored world, such calculated controversies are bound to make money. Perhaps it will stimulate productive debate, as well. I suspect, though, that many audience members will realize just how politically skewed the film is -- just as most people don't seem to think twice about how offensive and immoral films like True Lies are, in their depiction of Arabs as crazed, childish, uncivilized fanatics who kill with no cause or rationale whatsoever, whom even children can outwit (note: looks like there's an interesting book on this sort of phenomenon, called Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People -- see here for a further article).
Anyhow, it was an interesting film to watch -- it would go great on a double bill with Avenge But One of My Two Eyes, reviewed a bit earlier. It made for a good "last film of the festival."
For those interested in these matters, there's an article here on some of the controversy surrounding a book that criticizes Alan Dershowitz and the ways in which the idea of "the new anti-Semitism" is used as an ideological construct to deflect criticism of the state of Israel.