(directors: Sagi Bornstein, Udi Nir, Shani Rozanes; screenwriters: Shani Rozanes, Sagi Bornstein, Udi Nir; cinematographer: Eitan Hatuka; editor: Sagi Bornstein; cast: Golda Meir, Zvi Zamir, Meron Medzini, Gideon Meir, Yossi Beilin, Reuven Abergel, Uri Avnery; Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: NR; producer:Georg Tschurtschenthaler/Christian Beetz/Udi Nir/Sagi Bornstein; Go 2 Films; 2019-Israel/Germany-in Hebrew & English, subtitles in English if necessary)

The film paints a sympathetic portrait of Golda, as it asks her foes to take another look at her.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The three directors Sagi Bornstein and Udi Nir (who co-directed #uploading_holocaust) and Shani Rozanes, a journalist making her film debut, have uncovered a dusty but valuable TV archive tape on Golda Meir, where the controversial former leader says some things she never said before and might change some minds of those Israelis who detested her as a bad prime minister. In the TV archives in Israel, the filmmakers have uncovered an off- the- record interview that the American-born Golda Meir, Israel’s leader from 1969-1974, gave to an Israeli TV program in the spring of 1978, the same year she died a few months later at the age of 70. The tape was in an old format, not used today, and had to be digitalized to be viewed.

It tells how Golda’s life was shaped from her experience in Kiev, Ukraine, as a frightened nine-year-old fearing the pogrom and brought to Milwaukee by her father. When dad didn’t respect her interest in school, which she loved, and wanted no higher schooling for her than high school, wanting her to get married to raise a family, she fled the house after graduation to live with her older Zionist involved sister in Denver. There she became obsessed with Zionism and convinced her soon-to-be husband to move to Israel. They would later divorce after settling in Israel.

In a dry way, the documentary covers briefly all the political events during Golda’s career and her surprising rise to power. The brevity might be fine for Israelis who know all about their only female prime minister, but for those not from Israel they might have to do some online research to get tuned into the conversation.

The main reason for Golda having so many in Israel dislike her (in America, the Jews seem to love her and consider her a legend) is that during the Yom Kippur War the causality count was high-they lost two thousand Israeli soldiers. Some thought she never made an effort to take up Egypt’s offer of land for peace (later it’s learned it was a bogus offer). She ruled at a time of a down economic period and was criticized for her hatred of the Arabs and her refusal to help the Sephardic Jews with their problems. Also during her watch, there was the massacre
of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich and the severe retaliation by Mossad.

There are interviews with the Mossad chief at the time of the terrorist attack,
Zvi Zamir, who only had praise for Golda. There are other interviews with politicians like the Labor Leader, Yossi Beilin, the journalist/Knesset member, Uri Avnery, and her, insightful on personal matters, grandson Gideon Meir.

The chain-smoking Golda reveals in the film she had a good sense of humor and was not just the grim-faced person she was portrayed as by the media.

She tells of sleep deprivation while in office, never finishing a dream, staying awake in fear of missing any news event.

The film paints a sympathetic portrait of Golda, as it asks her foes to take another look at her. I don’t know if the film had enough energy to change minds, but it caught my interest even if it needed to say more to be more convincing.