The Oslo Diaries
Impact | VIFF Impact
It all seems so long ago: Yasser Arafat shaking hands with Yitzhak Rabin in full view of the world, after the two bitterly opposed powers had sat down together to craft a deal that would have changed the Middle East. This riveting and moving documentary takes us back to the early 90s, when there was a particularly strong chance of peace between Israel and Palestine. The story begins with a secret meeting: two Israeli academics are dispatched to Scandinavia to put forth a proposal for negotiations with the PLO. Things go perhaps surprisingly well: Rabin, Arafat, Simon Peres (Israeli Minister of Defense at the time), and Mahmoud Abbas (PLO negotiator), all inch cautiously—heroically—towards a lasting "Accord". When after tense, lengthy and profound collective human engagement we see Arafat, Rabin and Bill Clinton standing together before the international press in Washington, even those who know the history may feel a powerful surge of hope.
Directors Mor Loushy and Daniel Sivan do a great job of storytelling, showing aplomb in their use of re-enactments, copious archival footage and present-day interviews. This film is a journalistic thriller, and like all thrillers it comes with a bad guy: Benjamin Netanyahu begins the film as a member of the opposition in the Knesset, and his rise to power is portrayed as a tragedy. The Oslo Diaries is a very sobering film—and essential viewing—but in its depiction of a few hopeful years it also offers a reckoning with the past, lessons for the future and even a bit of catharsis. You get all three of those from former Prime Minister Shimon Peres, giving the last interview of his life to the filmmakers.
"The brilliant Oslo Diaries will make you weep." – Now (Toronto)