THE HUMAN FACTOR – A Review by Cynthia Flores
A line from a song of the now-iconic musical Hamilton sets up this compelling documentary by filmmaker Dror Moreh best:
“I, I wanna be in the room where it happens
The room where it happens
I wanna be in the room where it happens
The room where it happens.”
Well, thanks to the Oscar®-nominated director of The Gatekeepers, we get to be in those rooms.
The Human Factor tells the untold, behind-the-scenes story of the United States’ 30-year effort to secure peace in the Middle East, told from the perspective of the American negotiators.
For all those key negotiators, some working on the same issue for almost three decades, peace in the Middle East became a personal obsession. It was a mission that shaped their professional careers, affected their personal lives, and still occupies their minds after all this time.
The negotiators speak candidly about their experiences. Add that to the never-before-seen official White House photography that illustrates what really went on behind the scenes in rooms away from made for headlines photo ops.
The film gives us real depth into what happened. Instead of just news feed characters, we get fleshed out portraits of world leaders. All this while we learn what really went on behind closed doors in meetings between U.S. presidents, Israeli, Palestinian, and Syrian leaders.
For the first time, we get first-hand impressions of events that shook the world. Not propaganda from the perspectives of the conflicting parties involved or that of politicians who care about their legacy, but from senior civil servants, the negotiators. They did their jobs to observe, relate, maintain neutrality, and convince both sides of the pressing necessity to resolve decades of brutal violence and turmoil. This is exciting stuff.
When asked why he wanted to tackle such a complex subject, director Moreh gave an interesting response:
“Although this is a story with global impact, it’s a very personal one for me. On November 4th, 1995, which happens to be my birth date, Prime Minister Rabin was shot. Ever since that night, my life was turned around.” He goes on to say, “It ended up as the driving force behind The Gatekeepers, my previous film, and now it fed a deep desire to really understand why although a huge American effort had been invested into the peace process, all attempts to reach peace went so badly wrong since that horrible November night.”
Moreh started his career as one of Israel’s leading directors of photography, so he has built a beautiful visual style for his storytelling. That is what keeps this documentary moving forward and so engaging. He manages to put you “in the room where it happens” as a fly on the wall. There are times during the film when you feel the tension seep off the screen and land in your lap as you watch it all unfold.
I give The Human Factor a 4.5-star rating. It’s a must-see for history buffs or anyone who wants to know more about peace in the Middle East.
Directed by: Dror Moreh
Written by: Oron Adar, Dror Moreh
Selig Rating: 4.5 Stars
Running Time: 1hr 48min
Limited Theatrical Release: May 7th – The Angelika Film Center & Cafe Dallas / Plano
Starring: Gamal Helal, Martin Indyk, Daniel Kurtzer, Robert Malley, Dennis Ross, Aaron David Miller
The Selig Rating Scale:
5 Stars – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
4 Stars – Good movie
3 Stars – OK movie
2 Stars – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
1 Star – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.