The status quo at the Academy Awards has for the most part followed this unwritten rule: if there’s a documentary made about the Holocaust, then it must win the Oscar for Best Documentary. It’s not about the movie; it’s about the subject. If the Academy were to not acknowledge the Holocaust, it would be perceived as anti-Semitic, the beginning of forgetting that which must never be forgotten, and most importantly, shatter the illusion that Jews control Hollywood.
Only in the absence of a documentary about the Holocaust does another horrific subject have a shot at the limelight. Documentaries that have covered Israeli-Palestinian conflict have been shown on HBO, but not been theatrically released, unintentionally creating a conspiratorial justification for propagating the aforementioned illusion.
But this year, a movie ironically titled The Gatekeepers, is promising to not only to upset the status quo, it just might change the world. This past Saturday night, it won the U.S. National Society of Film Critics’ Best Documentary Award.
Scheduled to be released nationwide in February, it has already opened in New York and the other cities that matter.
Google reveals posts with sensational headlines: “provocative,” ‘revealing,” and a “rude awakening.” While perhaps hyperbolic, these adjectives are consistent describing a movie in which six former high officials of Israel’s Security Agency, Shin Bet, reveal ugly truths about how Israel has defended itself.
Some reviews have criticized the officials, inferring that they are confessions seeking forgiveness rather than an effort to right history and express their shared desire for peace.
Other reviews predicted a sea change in Israeli politics when the movie was released there in the summer of 2012. Interestingly as of yesterday, the film has not threatened the popularity of Israel’s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu.
While I haven’t seen director Dror Moreh’s first documentary Sharon (2008), I am confident that the director had no overt political agenda considering his subject was (and remains) comatose.
Let me remind you that Oscar has not yet announced its nominees nor has the movie been seen by the hoi polloi.
Let me also remind you, that just as the U.S. ultimately determines Israel’s foreign policy, the U.S. also has the last word on a movie’s fate. And by the U.S., I don’t mean the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Le Movie Snob is excited to see this movie, but wondering: Can this movie succeed on its own merits, or, should it win the Best Documentary Feature Oscar, will the statue bear the Holocaust tarnish?