Hard men make peace, or would make peace because they have seen war. That’s the blunt message of The Gatekeepers, which is based on extraordinary sit-down interviews with the surviving heads of Israel’s Shin Bet security agency. For a combined 33 years, these men ran the secretive agency. None have ever spoken about their experiences on camera before.
The Gatekeepers tells the story of the Shin Bet, perhaps the most active and certainly the most secretive of Israel’s security forces, and it tells it from the perspectives of its leaders who, more than anyone, received the trust of the country’s political elites. In a series of candid interviews, they talk openly about the major events that marked their tenures. The citizens they swore to protect may have been safer as a result of their actions, but was the country any closer to peace?
In a style reminiscent of The Fog of War, their confessions are illustrated with archival footage and chilling computer animations based on photographs taken at the events. These offer a window into the moral dilemmas they faced as they unfolded. The audience is left pondering whether they or their governments would have responded any differently.
If Israel lies at the heart of the global War on Terror, the Gatekeepers’ confessions challenge the conventional wisdom of how that war should be waged, whether in Gaza or Guantanamo, Palestine or Pakistan. Theirs is the ultimate cautionary tale of what happens to people and nations alike when they try to answer violence with violence.
The Sarnia Justice Film Festival’s vision is the emergence of a sustainable world of communities at peace, living in just relationship one with another. We value empathy, equality, the sharing of resources and love of neighbour. We seek to be an effective contributor to the realization of this vision shared by many people.
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