"One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter."
-Yuval Diskin, former head of Shin Bet
The premise of The Gatekeepers: The director individually interviews six old, white guys to comment on the history of Israel's secret service, Shin Bet. Hardly sounds gripping, does it? It is. This documentary by Israeli director, Dror Moreh, is simply yet brilliantly conceived and executed, leaving the viewer with not only appreciation for Shin Bet's historical impact, but personal investment in the future it may predict.
Interviews with previous heads of Shin Bet are interleaved with archival footage and some computer animation to methodically build the story of Arab-Israeli relations from the 1967 Six Day War to the present.
As the film opened, my impression was that these Shin Bet alums would have a narrow view of Israel's honor versus the terrorism of Palestine. It could have been the yang to the yin of 5 Broken Cameras, another Oscar-nominated documentary, which follows the plight of Palestinian villagers losing their land to the incursion of Jewish settlers. As expected, the interviewees all addressed the many conflicts with Palestinian terrorists; but they also revealed compounding problems of terrorism perpetrated by extremists of their own country, as well as the illegal and unrestrained activities of the settlers.
The Gatekeepers offers a fascinating visit with history and the decision-makers who continue to impact the direction of the Middle East's future.