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FIELD DIARY (Yoman Sadeh) (director: Amos Gitai; cinematographer: Nurit Aviv; editor: Sheherazade Saadi; Runtime: 83; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Amos Gitai; Facets Video; 1982-Israel/France-in Hebrew with English subtitles)
“The film was not well-received in Israel and Gitai as a result had a forced ten-year exile from his homeland.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Provocative director Amos Gitai (“Eden”/”Kadosh”/”Kippur”) had no cooperation from authorities as he filmed the after effects of the Israeli army’s invasion into Southern Lebanon in 1982. A small film crew accompanies Gitai into the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (occupied by Israel since the war of 1967) for an attempt to interview Israeli soldiers; the Arabic mayor of Nablus, who lost his legs from a bomb blast; and Arabs at the market and looking for work in Tel Aviv. The film shows the confusion of the people, as the crew risks their lives by challenging the soldiers and policeman to answer their hostile questions. They refuse to turn their cameras off when asked to by the authorities. The entire film is made up of these confrontations. The best confrontation comes when one soldier says that the only way for Israel to have peace is to force all the Arabs out. The soldier’s friend says “Give them back their land.” Of all the soldiers interviewed, he’s the only one who didn’t support the occupation. The film was not well-received in Israel and Gitai as a result had a forced ten-year exile from his homeland.

There was an attempt by Gitai to present a balanced picture of the tense times, as he interviewed both Palestinians and soldiers and also showed the soldiers reactions to being stoned. Though Gitai captures the mounting tensions of the time and makes some attempt at getting to the greater truth, his controversial camera only shows that there are no easy answers when violence takes over on both sides. At the end of the documentary, which changes no one’s mind, we’re right back where we started and have learned little about how great the divide is between the Israelis and the Palestinians.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”