Today: February 29, 2024

The Gatekeepers

Once more the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has spoken and once more it’s been speaking right out of its well-upholstered posterior.

On 24th February 2013, as an audience numbering in the hundreds of millions watched around the world and Kelly Osbourne
critiqued the lovely dresses live on E! (the show as opposed to the popular dance culture love drug), the Academy chose not to honour Kirby Dick’s angry exposé of institutionalised sexual assault in the US military, The Invisible War.

It ignored Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi’s brave, defiant 5 Broken Cameras which charted one Palestinian West Bank family’s struggle under the harsh iniquities of violent Israeli occupation. And David France’s powerful How To Survive A Plague, charting the evolution of AIDS activist groups ACT UP and TAG and their fight to force the government and medical establishment to develop effective HIV treatments, may as well not even have existed for all the coverage it received.

As ever the Academy played it safe and awarded the Best Documentary Oscar to the least controversial, least important film; the bland, forgettable, Searching For Sugar Man, the feel good tale of a bland, forgotten musician finding out he’s big in South Africa.  Meanwhile the film that deserved to win the Oscar, Dror Moreh’s revelatory, at times terrifying, film The Gatekeepers opens in the UK this week.

A fantastic, thought-provoking, at times genuinely chilling documentary, The Gatekeepers is brave enough to grapple head-on with Israel’s less than fairly matched conflict with Palestine, its role in the War on Terror and its legacy of state-sanctioned violence and murder.

Granted an unprecedented level of access to the six former heads of Israel’s internal counterterrorism agency, the Shin Bet, Moreh’s film examines the morality, ambivalence and frustrations of Israeli-Palestinian relationships through the experiences of the men charged with preserving the Jewish State; from Israel’s strife-torn creation in 1948 following the partition of Palestine, through the Six-Day War and the almost infinite problems caused by Israel’s lightning conquest of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Old Jerusalem to the present day’s battle against Arab suicide bombers and heavily armed Jewish Zionist extremists.

Normally, as they get older, people drift to the right, become more reactionary, less forgiving, crueler. They become entrenched, unbending, unforgiving. Not so Moreh’s subjects whose experiences at the sharp end of Israel’s dirty wars and their oppressive subjugation of the indigenous Palestinian population lead them to talk openly about the need for dialogue and a negotiated peace with the Palestinians.

Bleak and brave, The Gatekeepers is a spellbinding film that truly deserves President Woodrow
Wilson’s assessment of D.W. Griffiths’ The Birth Of A Nation; it writes history with lightening.

David Watson

David Watson is a screenwriter, journalist and 'manny' who, depending on time of day and alcohol intake could be described as a likeable misanthrope or a carnaptious bampot. He loves about 96% of you but there's at least 4% he'd definitely eat in the event of a plane crash. Email:

Previous Story

Lords Of Salem

Next Story

Viola Davis To Mann’s Crime World?

Latest from Blog


Memory (2023)

Memory is an exquisite American drama in the tender embrace of Michel Franco’s cinematic prowess.

Lone Star – Criterion Collection

Rarely in cinema do you come across a filmmaker as versatile as Lone Star writer-director John Sayles. Here is a man who cut his Hollywood teeth working for Roger Corman, got early

Paths of Glory

Paths of Glory is a curious beast. It’s a war film whose battles are mostly fought in a court room. It’s a Kubrick epic, that feels like a small, claustrophobic indie movie.


Monolith is a film that delights and surprises in equal measure. This low-fi, slow burn thriller is part science fiction, part social commentary, with just the right amount of bumps and jumps

Billions Complete Series Unboxing

As Paul Giamatti remains a frontrunner in the race for this year’s Academy Award for Best Actor with his beautifully layered performance in The Holdovers, there’s no better time to catch up

Beverly Hills Cop Trilogy Unboxing

The heat is on. Eddie Murphy’s beloved street-smart Detroit cop Axel Foley is coming back to our screens in the highly-anticipated fourth entry in the Beverly Hills Cop series this summer, so
Go toTop

Don't Miss


In a recent interview with The New York Times, Oppenheimer

Radiance Films Blu-ray Unboxings

There’s a new boutique label in town. Radiance Films promise