Director Simone Bitton’s 2008 documentary on Rachel Corrie is opening in North America for the first time this week at the Tribeca Film Festival in Lower Manhattan. At left is a scene from Simone Bitton’s Rachel (Image courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival).
Showings of the film are set for Tuesday, April 28, Thursday, April 30 and Friday, May 1. To find locations and book seats, visit the Rachel page at the Tribeca Film Festival website.
Howard Feinstein writes at indieWIRE that Rachel is one of the 10 films to see at the festival. He writes that “buzz has it that American distributors are balking at acquiring this masterpiece of a documentary because it DARES to find fault with Israeli government policy—even though its Moroccan-born director, Simone Bitton (Wall), is an Israeli citizen.”
Feinstein: “The point of departure is the 2003 death of 22-year-old Rachel Corrie, an American activist who was run over by an Israeli army bulldozer while participating in a nonviolent protest against the destruction of Palestinian homes in Gaza—material mined differently in the one-woman play, My Name Is Rachel Corrie. Bitton interviews Corrie’s fellow International Solidarity Movement members as well as official spokespeople in order to present varying accounts of the incident, but she makes her own position against the government’s account apparent from the get-go. Bitton is a rarity, a documentarian of strong conviction with a moving, lyrical style.”
“With understated cinematic techniques, Bitton captures the spirit of Rachel’s youth, idealism, and political commitment amidst sweeping landscapes of Gaza and a portrait of daily life under ever-present military aggression,” writes Nancy Schafer, Executive Director of the film festival. “Excerpts from Corrie’s diaries are read aloud by members of ISM who continue in her path, putting their bodies harm’s way and protecting those whose lives hold less value in the eyes of the international media. And Bitton tracks down those who influenced Rachel’s path as a peace activist, interviewing them as they grapple with the complexities of how rewarding and profound it is to be in political solidarity across national borders.”
“I realize that in doing this, Rachel made good to America,” Bitton told the Seattle Times. “It was not her intention — her intention was to make good to the Palestinians. But by the very fact that she existed, the Palestinians have a less-monolithic idea of America.”
Co-sponsored by the Human rights Watch International Film Festival, Bitton’s Rachel