While there seems to be an international consensus that Middle East peace requires a two-state solution, acts of terrorism or new Israeli settlements continually interrupt political negotiations. Inspiring docu “State 194″ traces some positive developments that may pave the way to peace, or perhaps an independent Palestine accepted by the United Nations. Israeli helmer Dan Setton follows Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad from 2009-11 as he effectively builds the bedrocks of civil society in preparation for nationhood. Despite playing at times like a celebratory infomercial, the broadcast-ready pic deserves dates on pubcasters and cable worldwide.Charismatic technocrat Fayyad admits he modeled his ambitious plan “Ending the Occupation, Establishing the State” on the bottom-up strategy the Israelis used for U.N. admission in 1949. He travels the West Bank, inaugurating schools, hospitals, roads, cultural institutions and core institutions of governance. Although Gaza and Hamas rep unsolved problems, the docu shows how international opinion-makers support Palestine’s unilateral statehood bid, and a new generation of Palestinian and Israeli activists have found common cause for hope; too bad the Israeli government panicked. Visuals encompass a surfeit of motorcade arrivals; jumpy editing suffers from ADD.
A SET Prods., Participant Media, Zadig Prods. production. (International sales: Cinephil, Tel Aviv.) Produced by Dan Setton, Elise Pearlstein. Executive producers, Diane Weyermann, Jeff Skoll. Co-producer, Daniel J. Chalfen. Directed, written by Dan Setton.
Camera (color, DV), Hanna Abu-Saada, Yoram Millo; editors, Brian Johnson, Ariel Setton; music, Michael Brook; sound (Dolby Digital), Issa Qumsieh, Ricardo Levy; associate producers, Philippa Kowarsky, Omri Urzad. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (TIFF Docs), Sept. 13, 2012. Running time: 98 MIN.
Salam Fayyad, Mahmoud Abbas, Madj Biltaji, Mahmoud El-Mandawi, Nabeel Sweety, Ron Dermer, Tzipi Livni, Avi Dichter, Yitzhak Frankenthal, Sara Benninga, George Mitchell Jeremy Ben-Ami, Richard Serry. (English, Arabic, Hebrew dialogue)