'The Settlers' Explores Why Peace in the Region Remains Elus

'The Settlers' is a powerful example of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

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The Settlers traces the history of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and their growth through both individual action and the sometimes tacit encouragement of Israeli politicians.

Director Shimon Dotan certainly doesn’t disguise his pessimistic perspective on one of the most fought-over areas on the globe. He encounters a range of rationales for living on contested land, along with some shockingly unguarded interviews. Those interviews alone will leave a distinctive mark on you by their abrasiveness.

'The Settlers' Traces the History of Today's Jewish Settlers
'The Settlers' Traces the History of Today's Jewish Settlers

Attempting to show the historical narrative, Dotan does a fine job of intercutting interviews with pioneers in the movement and left-wing Israelis who give a more critical opinion. Many of these critiques come from professors, government officials and one Palestinian human rights activist.

Given the nature of this films narrative, it is unsurprising that the settlers come across as right-wing extremists who are fixated on what they believe is their God-given right, that in some ways, they struggle to validate political reasonings with any form of focus. Instead, they attempt to rationalise and justify their actions.

Due to the escalating tensions and conflicts of the settlement movement, along with increasing violence on the part of settlers and Palestinians, The Settlers is a must watch. At times it can confuse itself with historical and contemporary filmmaking methods to deliver this layered and frenzied situation. Rather than being a straightforward document on these settlers, it beats to a more history lesson motif that can drag it down in parts. When it's observational, The Settlers truly becomes a solid work. Despite these muddled stylistic approaches, The Settlers is ultimately another convincingly powerful example of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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Cultjer's Awards and Festival Editor