(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: The title is misleading. COLLIDING DREAMS is a short history of Zionism in Israel, its causes, and its impact on the Middle East. The title suggests it should be positive on at least two sides of this many-sided topic. In fact, there is little emphasis on the "Arab dream" and considerably more on the dream of a Jewish homeland. But if the film does not fully represent the anti-Zionist point of view, it does admit to some injustice to Arabs in the past. Commenting on the history here are interviewees presenting the Jewish and the Palestinian perspectives. But they never contend with each other directly. That makes the discussion less heated but conclusions are questionable. The team of Joseph Dorman and Oren Rudavsky produced, wrote, and directed. Rating: +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10

Joseph Dorman (SHOLEM ALEICHEM: LAUGHING IN THE DARKNESS and ARGUING THE WORLD) and Oren Rudavsky (A LIFE APART: HASIDISM IN AMERICA) were the writers, producers, and directors giving us a crash course (135 minutes) in the history and ideologies behind Zionism in the Middle East. The history presented spans the time from early Zionism in the late 19th century to the assassination of Yitzak Rabin in 1995.

The history starts us with Theodor Herzl who saw the possibility of a Jewish state that would be a refuge from the anti-Semitism and the frequent pogroms in Europe. Because Jewish assimilation had not worked Herzl did not believe that the international hatred could be overcome and instead he wanted a place of refuge and relative safety from conflict.

The original title of the film was THE ZIONIST IDEA, which more suggests most of the film is from the Jewish point of view. This does not mean those parts are all pro-Israel. They seem to look at Zionism "warts and all." But more time is spent on the Jewish experience.

One story of that experience is particularly memorable. A woman released from captivity in the Holocaust was boarding a ship to Palestine and was very moved on seeing a sign in Hebrew saying "Entrance". She had never seen Hebrew written in letters so large. Hebrew had in her experience been something that had to be hidden away. This was Hebrew proclaiming itself nearly out loud.

The case for the Jews is one defended on the basis of need. They need a homeland, and that was certainly obvious when Israel was founded. The case that it was owed to them because of a promise in the Bible is for me less convincing. Contemporary law is not there to enforce Biblical promises. And as some Jews admit in the interviews the land is beautiful like a woman, but it is a woman who is already engaged to someone else.

Israelis and Arabs are interviewed throughout and Israelis express some irony that Herzl expected a place of peace in the world and it has turned out anything but. The documentary is well polished and thought provoking, but it itself raises controversy.

COLLIDING DREAMS is a background to understanding issues that affect us not just every day, but many times every day. It has aspects of the issues that most of us have not seen and hence will be provocative. I rate it a +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10. COLLIDING DREAMS will open in New York and Los Angeles on March 4, 2016.

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					Mark R. Leeper
					Copyright 2016 Mark R. Leeper