Nadav Schirman: The Green Prince

På fredag viser Cinemateket i København – i forbindelse med Jewish Film festival – ”The Green Prince”, her anmeldt på engelsk.

In 2010 Mosab Hassan Yousef wrote a book, ”Son of Hamas”. A feature film adaptation of the book is planned, a documentary has been made, the one that is to be shown at Cinemateket Copenhagen (February 26 – March 6) and the one that opened the Sundance documentary section 2014. Popular at festivals.

From a story point of view totally understandable – it has everything of a dramatic spy story, it is built like that, very well crafted, its has two charismatic main characters Mosab Hassan Yousef and the Shin Bet (the Israeli internal secret service) ”handler”, the one who recruited Yousef to work as ”a source”, Gonen Ben Yitzhak. If it brings anything new to the everlasting tragic conflict or to the way Shin Bet operates… having seen ”The Gatekeepers”, the answer is no. As well as ”The Collaborator and his familiy” does give an insight to the social aspect of being/havong been a source. Both recent Israeli documentary films.

As the title of the book indicates, Mosab Hassan Yousef is the son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, one of the leaders within Hamas, a man who is constantly in and out of prison. The whole film deals with the relationship between father and son, and there is plenty of archive material with the father, and some with father and son together during the period the son was his assistant – as well as a source for Shin Bet, that he decided to become after experiencing the torture that Hamas performed in Israeli prisons towards those believed to be collaborators with the Israelis.

The problem for the film, however, is that you never hear the voices of the father or mother or brothers of ”The Green Prince”, the name he was given by Shin Bet. What you see and hear are two long monologues by Mosab Hassan Yousef and Gonen Ben Yitzhak, interrupted by loads of surveillance camera material, some documentary footage and some archive material.

It has been difficult to get a fluent narrative out of that, wherefore captions are introduced like ”hamas”, ”torture”, ”olive tree”, ”responsibility” and at the end ”lies”, the last chapter where Mosab Hassan Yousef has to leave the country, ends up in the US, where first the is denied asylum. But the now dismissed Shin Bet handler comes to his help. He has no contact to the family in Ramallah. Mosab Hassan Yousef saved lives through his intelligence work and the relationship between him and Gonen Ben Yitzhak is nice to witness… but what Shin Bet has used their source’s informations to… so many questions hang in the air after watching this film.

Germany, UK, Israel, 2014, 100 mins.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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