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"Rachel" is a startlingly rigorous, fascinating and deeply moving investigatory documentary that examines the death of peace activist and International Solidarity Movement (ISM) member Rachel Corrie, who was crushed by an Israeli army bulldozer in the Gaza Strip in 2003. A few weeks after her little-reported death, an inquiry by Israeli military police concluded that Corrie died in an accident. Simone Bitton ("Wall"), an award-winning documentary filmmaker who is a citizen of both France and Israel, has crafted a dispassionate but devastating essay investigating the circumstances of Rachel Corrie’s death—including astounding eyewitness testimony from activists, soldiers, Israeli Defense Force army spokespersons and physicians, as well as insights from Corrie’s parents, mentors and diaries. In assembling a thorough and candid account of the event, using both visual and narrative evidence, Bitton’s quietly persistent questioning manages to accomplish what the inadequate legal proceedings and the overheated press coverage did not: an unflinching examination that refuses to exculpate or equivocate. By aligning her filmmaking methodology with the ISM’s guidelines to state only objective and concrete details without placing judgment, Bitton examines the circumstances surrounding the unresolved case of Corrie's death. The film begins like a classic documentary, but soon develops, transcending its subject and establishing a candid new visual approach for bearing witness. 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.
The region, already torn apart by decades of conflict, is divided on who is responsible for Rachel’s death. The Israeli Army maintains that the bulldozer driver never saw Rachel; the Palestinians who she considered her friends and family insist that she was deliberately murdered. Balancing interviews with the Israeli Defense Force's current and former personnel and the participants and leaders in the ISM, Bitton examines the circumstances surrounding the unresolved case of Corrie's death. She 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, while also letting the Gaza strip conflict speak for itself in images: flyers and graffiti are everywhere denouncing the Israeli army and declaring Rachel a martyr, while demolished homes and buildings form a scarred and embattled landscape.
- Directed by - Simone Bitton
- Distributed by - Women Make Movies
- MPAA Rating - Unrated