Screened as part of NZIFF 2004

Checkpoint 2003


Directed by Yoav Shamir

Israel / Japan In Arabic, English and Hebrew with English subtitles
80 minutes Beta-SP

Director, Photography


Era Lapid


Amsterdam Documentary 2003; New Directors/New Films, San Francisco 2004


The West Bank and Gaza Strip have been under Israeli military authority since 1967. Nowadays, Palestinians, when travelling from one village or city to another, must pass through checkpoints ostensibly created to protect Israelis from suicide bombers. Employing a small camera, the filmmaker, himself a young Israeli male, approaches the soldiers with ease, observing their jaded, off-hand exertions of power. 'Try to make me look good, not like the bad guy', one young guard pleads. There's no way any filmmaker could make this situation look good, but what's surprising about this film, which took the top prize at last year's International Documentary Festival in Amsterdam, is its view of soldiers and Palestinians alike as victims.

"It's Kafkaesque bureaucracy meets martial law, where one hour you're allowed to go to work, the next you're not allowed to go home, and toddlers stand sobbing in the rain. Shamir remains largely a mute offscreen presence, but both the soldiers and the humiliated Arabs seem relieved to have their absurd struggle documented. A knockout." — Michael Atkinson, Village Voice