Directed by Nadav Schirman
What we have here is what at first seems like an interesting doco about Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of the founder of HAMAS, who decided that, as the eldest of the sons, he was to take a stand against the violence of HAMAS once he witnessed their methods of violence. Personally I can’t understand how one man can decide to betray and shame his family and culture, as if he alone could make a difference, but that is how the story goes. It quickly becomes repetitive and obvious it has an agenda of some kind, as the film is extremely pro-Israel. This is borderline-propaganda really, as not only is it biased 100% towards Israel, there is zero input from the side of HAMAS, or even Palestinian citizens.
Furthermore, the film conveniently glosses over the provocative behaviour by Israel that lead to the creation of HAMAS originally. Instead, it carefully chooses video snippets of Mosab’s father Sheikh Hassan Yousef to paint a picture of an evil terrorist who created a purely evil group. His convictions and reasons for forming such a radical group are not explored thoroughly at all; the little we do hear is again pro-Israel and anti-truth.
The film makes a big deal about how tough Mosab’s decision was to ‘go public’, supposedly risking his life. Yet he has written his own book, and must be alive and well, able to capitalise on the book by taking it to the big screen within four years. The fact that no attempts at all have been made on his life is literally unbelievable, especially after we are told how risky and life changing it supposedly would be for him to go public. If any attempts have been made on his life, the film doesn’t let you know. This then is essentially a filmed wikipedia entry, complete with overwhelming bias, missing key points of the story, as well as intentional ignorance, in this case: Israel’s confrontational and provocative behaviour.
As a story, it is certainly fantastic, better than most films that cover similar ground. But this is a documentary, one that is very hard to believe in its entirety; especially due to the overwhelming bias on Isreal’s behalf and the condemning of HAMAS and Palestine in general, as their constant struggle isn’t recognised at all by the filmmakers. They are painted as the bad guys, with no input from them even attempted. The fact that this ‘documentary’ even made it to screens in my city is a testament to the western bias of the film from beginning to end. There are free films on the internet that are far, far better than this one-sided sob story.
One has to wonder: Would a similar story from the opposite ‘side’ be permitted to be turned into a film, let alone be screened in Western countries?
Any interesting cinematography is non-existent, with much of the movie being Mosab’s face or his handler’s face in front of a grey background. There aren’t even changes of angle, just two faces talking at you for about two-thirds of the film. No attempt at all is made to re-enact the story through actors. When it isn’t a face talking directly to the camera as if it were made for YouTube, which is what it does look like, there are small random snippets of video footage of Mosab’s father, of Mosab, still photos of his father and cold, emotionless night vision footage taken from a helicopter showing the same scene several times over, without it being explained in any way at all.
If you know the story already then there isn’t anything to see here to see at all, don’t waste your time. It really does feel like an amateur documentary made for YouTube, and the fact that they are able to charge people to watch this is incredible to me. I have never wanted my money back after seeing a ‘film’, but this is one giant fucking exception.
The documentary is evolving, from the interesting, varied and well shot Tim’s Vermeer to semi-documentaries such as 20,000 Days on Earth that push the envelope of where non-fiction film can go. This doesn’t even come close to keeping up, the only envelope being pushed here is one of bias and ignorance.
1/5 – Truly a waste of time. I have never given a film such a low score, but this is generous considering this entire film belongs on the internet as a free watch, not as a feature film.
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