A forensic and sociological reconstruction of a modern tragedy, “Diameter of the Bomb” documents in explicit detail the detonation of a Jerusalem bus and its sad, complex aftermath. Though often uncomfortably slick for the gravitas of its subject, docu nevertheless puts an aching human face on the violent act. Pic is due out stateside via ThinkFilm, a release bookended by fest play and special interest ancillary.
On June 18, 2002, a Hamas suicide bomber named Mohammed Al Ghoul detonated a bomb on bus 32A in Jerusalem. Twenty people died and 50 were injured, at the time the worst bombing in the region in six years.
From the cautious bus driver to the forensic examiner to the responding firefighter, ambulance driver and counterterrorism expert, professionals whose lives were touched by the tragedy remember the sequence of events before, during and after the bombing.
The victims are identified by number, with friends and relatives of a handful of those interviewed and profiled on the magnitude of their loss. A number of passengers survived, for example, because the body of a particular passenger shielded them from the blast.
Perhaps most controversial is the inclusion of friends and relatives of Hamas member Mohammed Al Ghoul, who was 22 when he finally succeeded in carrying out a successful mission after two failed attempts. “I am proud of my son,” says his defiant mother. “This is the only method our young people can use.” Later, police footage shows Mohammed’s face on the blood-slicked road next to the ruined bus.
Though marshaling an impressive number of interviewees, pic lacks a more complete span of victims’ stories, presumably because some families might not have wished to cooperate. Missing, too, is a more complete illustration of the doomed bus’s spatial relationship in Jerusalem or where victims lived and boarded it. Still, vet helmers Steven Silver and Andrew Quigley have navigated explosive terrain in examining the immediate fallout of the blast.
Tech credits are skilled, though Christian Henson’s propulsive score seems somehow inappropriate for the subject, more suited to a “Dirty Harry”-ish urban actioner than a portrait of real people whose absence is a real tragedy. Pic’s title comes from Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai’s brief but resonant 1978 verse.