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“A History of Missed Opportunities” – The Human Factor (Film Review)

3 min read

The Human Factor is a that follows the work of a select few of the American government's negotiators from 1991 through until around 2002. After the Cold War ended, the United States government set its sights on brokering peace between and , along with the rest of the Middle East. This documentary interviews all of the negotiators as they tell their stories on how they communicated with leaders of Israel and Palestine in order to try and come to an agreement over various attempts at treaties.

Sony Pictures Classics

The conflict between Israel and basically all of its neighbours remains to this day as one of the most complicated and distressing political issues of the past few hundred years. Ever since Israel was founded in the 1940s, it has been the source and cause of several wars, terrorist attacks and general mayhem. So it quite rightfully deserves a documentary feature that illustrates these issues and how important they are. Sadly though, if you don't know anything about the problems surrounding the Hebrew Nation, then The Human Factor is definitely not for you.

The Human Factor acts as if you already know pretty much everything about the Israeli Government and its history. It also assumes you know who the PLO are (that's the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, by the way). The documentary never takes a moment to explain to you the basics of what is going on and drops you right in the deep end immediately. There's not really any context to why the leaders of Israel and Palestine need to sign a peace treaty and why the nations are at odds. This film is well over 90 minutes long, and in none of that time does it really explain what's happening. It just tells you the stories of these various American negotiators.

Sony Pictures Classics

This also leads to another problem with the film in that it's told very much from the American perspective. This means that you're just told what the Americans thought of the whole situation. You never get any kind of first hand explanation from any Israelis, Palestinians or even Syrians about what they thought or what their people wanted from any of these treaties. This conflict originates from deep seeded issues that go all the way back to biblical times, well before the United States as a concept even existed. This is all the more saddening when you realise that the director of this film isn't of American origin and is in fact Israeli. It could be that he wished to blame the Americans for what was happening, but that doesn't come across very well.

The Human Factor is quite a glossy looking documentary. There are several cool 3D effects used on photos of meetings to make them more dynamic. Though it's not too dissimilar from the software used on Facebook.

This film really should have made more of an effort to make the Israeli/Palestinian conflict more accessible to viewers. There's a lot of interesting information in here, but it's buried under a lot of jargon and isn't clear for people with little to no knowledge.

The Human Factor will be released in the UK on May 21. 

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