2016 Sundance Docs in Focus: THE SETTLERS

settlersOnto the second half of this year’s World Cinema docs: From Israel/France/Canada/Germany, THE SETTLERS, Shimon Dotan’s in-depth consideration of the ever-contentious West Bank settlements.

Festival Section:
World Cinema Documentary Competition

Sundance Program Description:

In the nearly 50 years since Israel’s decisive victory in the 1967 Six-Day War, hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens have established expanding communities in the occupied territories of the West Bank. Frequently coming into direct conflict with the region’s Palestinian inhabitants, and facing the condemnation of the international community, the settlers have been viewed by some as the righteous vanguard of modern Zionism and by others as overzealous squatters who are the greatest impediment to the possibility of peace in the region.

Director Shimon Dotan (HOT HOUSE, 2007 Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Award winner) opens up a space in between these extremes, offering unprecedented access to pioneers of the historical settlement movement and a diverse range of modern-day settlers, religious and secular alike. The result is a comprehensive, provocative exploration of the controversial communities who continue to extend an inordinate influence on the sociopolitical destinies of Israel and Palestine.

Some Background:
Director/Producer: Shimon Dotan
This marks Dotan’s second feature doc, following the Sundance winner HOT HOUSE. His fiction films have been recognized with Israeli Academy Awards, as well as an award at Berlin. Dotan has previously received support from the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program for this project.

Producers: Estelle Fialon, Jonathan Aroch, and Paul Cadieux
Les Films du Poisson’s Fialon is also the producer of fellow 2016 Sundance doc EAT THAT QUESTION – FRANK ZAPPA IN HIS OWN WORDS. She previously produced the Academy Award-nominated Sundance alum THE GATEKEEPERS (2013). Talisma Productions’ Aroch produced HOT HOUSE, while Cadieux previously produced the Oscar-nominated THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE.

Editor: Oron Adar
Among his editing credits, Adar previously cut Sundance alum THE GATEKEEPERS.

Why You Should Watch:
As noted in my official capsule above, Dotan’s film is singular in its breadth, providing viewers with a detailed sense of both the historical roots and present-day complexities of the settlement movement through direct access to a wide-range of settlers themselves. In the process, the filmmaker offers a true insider’s view, while also connecting their stories to the international community that has influenced, and is influenced by, their continued presence and expansion in the West Bank.

More Info:

For Sundance screening dates and times, click the link in the first paragraph.

To experience the festival through the eyes of this year’s filmmakers, follow my Sundance filmmaker class of 2016 Twitter list.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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