Review: ‘Soldier/Citizen’

Intelligently assembled observational docu "Soldier/Citizen" follows an Israeli Defense Forces-sponsored civics course for soldiers nearing the end of their service who want to obtain a high-school equivalency diploma.

Intelligently assembled observational docu “Soldier/Citizen” follows an Israeli Defense Forces-sponsored civics course for soldiers nearing the end of their service who want to obtain a high-school equivalency diploma. Although the material, shot in 2006 by multihyphenate Silvina Landsmann, will feel sadly out of date for Israelis, the discussion inside the classroom is fascinating for outsiders and should be required viewing for foreign diplomats daring to weigh in on the intractable Middle East peace process. Fests, broadcasters and educational institutions rep the natural market.

During the intensive three-week course held at a bucolic campus in Givat Haviva, patient, progressive instructor Eyal lays out core concepts, encouraging his students, most from poor immigrant families, to reflect and discuss. They consider how the two founding principles of Israel — to be a Jewish state and a democratic state — frequently conflict, define words such as “tolerance,” “pluralism,” “discrimination” and “nationality,” and debate how (and if) an occupying force can respect human rights. General consensus on the need for a Palestinian state is apt to infuriate Israel’s current right-wingers. Intimate lensing notes youngsters tuning in — and out. Simple tech work does the job.

Soldier/Citizen

Israel

Production

A Comino Films production supported by Cinema Project, Rabinovich Foundation for the Arts. (International sales: Doc & Film Intl., Paris.) Produced by Silvina Landsmann. Executive producer, Marek Rozenbaum. Directed by Silvina Landsmann. Camera (color, DV), Landsmann; editor, Gil Shnaiderovich. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Forum), Feb. 10, 2012. Running time: 68 MIN.

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