The mixed Palestinian-Israeli couples in Elle Flanders’ “Zero Degrees of Separation” are gay, but the obstacles they face have less to do with sexual preference — or cultural homophobia — than they do with the cruelly unequal treatment accorded two sides of a religious, ethnic and political divide. Fine entry in this subject’s ever-growing documentary library is strong meat that warrants attention from Jewish, Arab, human rights, gay and general fests, as well as specialized broadcasters.
Using home movie footage of her then-youthful grandparents — early participants in Israel’s founding — Flanders contrasts their idealism with grimmer realities today, as faced by Israeli Jew Ezra — who delights in haranguing omnipresent soldiers — and his much younger lover, Palestinian Muslim Selim. Selim spent seven years in prison for resisting the occupation and may now be deported for reasons that are vague. Lesbian couple Edit and Samira aren’t at risk of forced separation, but despite shared political sympathies, their different racial backgrounds and rights create a wedge. Sharply assembled pic’s dominant emphasis isn’t so much on individual dramas as the Kafkaesque everyday red tape, roadblocks and hypocritical policies aimed at making life near-impossible for Palestinians and their supporters.