Shatz & Barash: The Collaborator and his Family

It is quite an achievement by the filmmakers to establish and keep a tension the whole way through a feature length film, where actually nothing happens in a classical action sense. And yet a lot happens, small banal events and problems with the law in a family cursed by the fact that the father was an informer for the Israelis in the occupied Palestinian territory, and had to flee to Israel, to the country he had helped, a country that couldn’t care less now that he is in Tel Aviv with his wife, his children, with a strong focus on the 3 sons, Mahmoud (12), Suffian (16) and Muhammad (17).

The reason that this film is so strong, is that the filmmakers – by staying with the family for a very long time – have obtained the confidence of the characters and are able to make them come out as human beings like you and me, but trapped in the hopeless, apparently unsolvable Palestinian/Israeli conflict.

They live without permit in a shabby area of Tel Aviv. Ibrahim, the father, gets arrested for violence against his wife, who has been home to Hebron endangering herself and her daughter, as they are part of a traitor’s family. He gets 8 months of house arrest, lives in a kind of tent on a roof top, sees his family occasionally, at the same time as he is a kind of caretaker, who sends his sons to collect money from the renters. The sons are in conflict with the law, they are sent to reformatory schools, they suffer from the situation of their father, their attitude towards the Israelis is clear – one talks about getting a swastika tattooed on his arm! At the same time as the Israelis try to hire them as collaborators.

It sounds very dark, and indeed it is, but the film has also a lot of fine human situations from a family life full of compassion and love. The music score, the montage and the care for details of the everyday life… this reviewer has no objections to a small drama of obvious universality.

Israel, France, USA, 84 mins., 2011

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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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