After premiering at the 2019 Telluride Film Festival and screening at the Hamptons, Chicago, AFI FEST, and more, Dror Moreh’s insightful documentary “The Human Factor” is finally gearing up for a wide release, care of Sony Pictures Classics. Per the film’s official synopsis, it documents “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.” Filmmaker Moreh previously helmed the 2012 Oscar nominee “The Gatekeepers,” which followed the former leaders of Israeli security agency Shin Bet.
When the film was preparing for its 2019 DOC NYC premiere, IndieWire’s own Anne Thompson wrote that it was an “intelligent examination of the peace process in the Middle East through the lens of six wily, strategically sensitive negotiators who led the diplomatic talks over 25 years with a series of U.S., Israel, and Palestine leaders.” The film boasts a wide variety of talking heads, all of whom come at the material from a place of deep understanding and, occasionally, still very real emotional attachment to their quest.
Thompson continued, “The statesmen’s ability to build bridges between the two sides — from U.S. presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton to Israel prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak and Palestine Liberation Organization chairman Yasser Arafat — is the human factor of the title. The awful truth is that peace seemed possible, if always elusive. The closest potential for a breakthrough came via Rabin and Arafat, who was told not to pack a gun or wear military gear if he wanted to shake Rabin’s hand at the White House in September 1993. You see the two sworn enemies grow to be able to talk and trust each other.”
When the documentary first bowed in 2019, it entered a world more in need of lessons of reflection than ever before. And while some things have changed in the intervening months, its stories of diplomacy, understanding, and human connection against the backdrop of hardened politics remain as essential as ever.
Sony Pictures Classics will release “The Human Factor” in January 2021. Check out the film’s first trailer and poster, exclusively on IndieWire, below.