Thursday, May 6, 2021

The Human Factor Review: A Fascinating Look At The Middle East Peace Process

Gamal Helal	...	Self Martin Indyk	Martin Indyk	...	Self Daniel Kurtzer	Daniel Kurtzer	...	Self Robert Malley	Robert Malley	...	Self Aaron Miller	Aaron Miller	...	Self Dennis Ross	Dennis Ross	...	Self

Release date: May 7, 2021
Running time: 106 minutes        
Directed by: Dror Moreh
Script by: Dror Moreh, Oron Adar
Featured negotiators: Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk, Gamal Helal, Aaron David Miller, Daniel Kurtzer, Robert Malley

There was a time when peace in the Middle East appeared to be just within reach. What went so horribly wrong? The Human Factor revisits three decades of an Israeli-Arab peace process from a unique perspective: that of the American mediators – the peacemakers who shuttled between Middle East capitals, spending hours with the region’s political heavyweights – prime ministers, generals, ex-terrorists, diplomats, dictators, and presidents. These mediators gained intimate knowledge of the individuals and stories which dominated daily news around the world.

For someone like me who lived through this period but never had a great understanding of the issues, the Human Factor is a fantastic way to get insight into this.  The negotiators who narrate the documentary are easy to follow and candid for what went on during this peace process.  It seems like they pull no punches in their assessment and recognize their own failures and hubris when appropriate.  And they give amazing insight into a number of world leaders; allowing us to see some of the very personal decisions that these men had to make and balance their desire for peace with the will of their people.

The Human Factor tells these stories through narration by the original negotiators, but also uses pictures and clips from the time to give you the background you need to understand these stories.  The film has a really interesting use of 3D pictures to tell the story.  Using some technical wizardry, it takes old pictures, cleans them up, and gives them a little depth to allow you to feel like you are also in the room.  It really helps to make the viewer feel like a participant in this process and turns what could have been dry effects into something engaging.  And seeing these in conjunction with the news clips and other images of the time really gives the viewer a sense of place.

But what really comes through in this documentary is just how close peace was and what small points kept the peace from happening.  The whole negotiations were a complicated dance to ensure that everyone was engaged and happy, and it is amazing to see the small points that ultimately derailed the process.  And it is also fascinating to follow these leaders throughout the process and to see their interactions with successive heads of state.  But ultimately what this shows is just how complicated the issue of peace in the middle east is and the small but vast chasm between the sides after these negotiations failed.

The Human Factor is a fascinating look at peace in the middle east, with great narration, clever effects to keep the viewer engaged, and a humbling look at just how complicated this issue really is.

Watch it.

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