The 55th Chicago International Film Festival is excited to welcome Israeli director Dror Moreh to our fair city for the premiere of his film The Human Factor this month. The Oscar®-nominated director of the The Gatekeepers (2012) joins this year’s Documentary program with an epic behind-the-scenes story of the United States’ 30-year-effort to secure peace in the Middle East. Recounted in intimate detail by the American negotiators on the frontlines, The Human Factor is what Newsweek calls “a deeply wise examination of statesmanship and leadership, or their egregious absence; a celebration of compromise as the indispensable element of diplomacy; and a stirring argument for the power of humanity.” Below, Moreh explains why he’s eager for Chicago audiences to experience his newest masterwork.
Do you believe that documentaries can inspire change?
If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t be able to make the movies I make. In today’s world, a lot of people—especially young people—shape their views on how the world is from social media, and are most likely affected by like-minded people, with similar opinions to theirs, which means the only truth they are exposed to is one-sided. Good films, in my opinion, show the world as it is: complex, contradictory, multilayered. However, change is a big word, so I believe that a movie can provoke a change for new ways of thinking, looking at problems from a different more nuanced perspective, adding new information to the debate, and create a bigger canvas.
What threads/themes/personalities link The Gatekeepers to The Human
First and foremost, in both movies, the main point is speaking to people that were there in the decision-making rooms with the leaders when these events were happening. Both movies deal with the Middle East conflict and with the reasons for the horrible situation this area is in. Both movies come from a very distinct perspective; not trying to examine the problem from all sides but focusing on the very specific and distinct point of view of a number of professionals, who acted as experts on the subject. In the case of The Human Factor, these are the American negotiators, whose sole purpose and life mission was to bring peace to this troubled region. Why did I choose to speak with them only? Because their job was to propagate peace, to bridge the gap between the two sides and bring them to the understanding that neither side can have all their demands and wishes fulfilled. They were supposed to be unbiased professionals, but as we see in the movie, or as Aaron Miller says, you grow up in a milieu, where you are familiar with the needs and requirements of one side, but not the other.
What excites you about bringing your film to the Chicago International Film Festival?
Every festival is an opportunity to examine how the film works with a larger audience. The Chicago Film Festival has a reputation for being home to important films that promote diversity and controversial debates. I am happy and excited to bring the film to Chicago film lovers and experience it film with them.
How have audiences responded to your film?
We finished the film only recently, the first screenings were in Telluride, and the response was profound and encouraging.
What other films are you excited to see at the festival?
ALL OF THEM.
What do you hope audiences take away from your film?
That reality is more complex than it seems, that in the complex world we live in you can’t shape policy through tweets, that sometimes the thing you’ve been told that happened behind closed doors is not what really happened. And most important: that the “human factor,” the relationship of human beings—yes, even leaders—can overshadow everything, and that doubt is always a good virtue.
The Human Factor screens Sunday, Oct 20th @ 3:15 pm and Monday, Oct 21st @ 12:00 pm, both with Dror Moreh in attendance. Purchase tickets here.