In November 2008, Rollins College presented an outdoor movie event featuring a documentary about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Many students turned out to watch "Encounter Point" on an inflatable screen, and stayed afterward for discussion and food. Audience members reported enjoying the film very much as it was an accurate, though surprisingly optimistic depiction of the situation in the Middle East. While there have been many documentaries on said conflict, few have revealed the growing non-violent conflict-resolution movement between Israelis and Palestinians. The following is New York Magazine's review of "Encounter Point". You can read the original blog post about the outdoor movie event here.
Ronit Avni and Julia Bacha's Encounter Point feels like another one of those good-for-you documentaries about the evergreen issue of Israelis and Palestinians trying to live together in peace. We've seen this subject matter tackled beforein a couple of cases, as with the Oscar-nominated 2001 documentary Promises, quite powerfullyand one wonders what Avni and Bacha will bring to the story that's new. At first, not all that much: Encounter Point depicts a number of unlikely individuals on both sides who have decided to help build grassroots, non-violent dialogue. Most of the people involved are victims as wellmany are parents who lost children to terrorists or soldiers, one is a former Intifada zealot who spent four years in prison and lost a brother to violence, and so on. Avni and Bacha dutifully film these individuals as they go about their journeys, joining silent protests, attending conferences, arguing with their fellow countrymen, etc. The filmmaking here isn't exactly revolutionarymuch of it is dry, episodic, and undistinguished. But as I watched Encounter Point, I began to sense it working on me in quite a different way. Most documentaries covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, even the ones about the peacemakers, are cries of despair, but there's something extraordinarily upbeat about this film.
The idea behind Encounter Pointand it's a new, bracing oneisn't that these people are iconoclasts and heroes who have broken the mold, but that they are part of a growing movement of non-violence, that there are thousands like them. It may not break any new aesthetic ground, but Encounter Point might just be the most optimistic film about this conflict you'll ever see.
Source: "Encounter Point" by Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine. Read full review at: http://nymag.com/movies/listings/rv_54084.htm