Filmmaking Decisions: Why Make a Documentary About the Law?
The Law in These Parts is an unprecedented exploration of the evolving and little-known legal framework that Israel has employed to administer its 40-year military occupation of the West Bank and, until 2006, Gaza.
The story is told through the words of the very military judges, prosecutors, and legal advisors who helped create the system and who agreed to take the cinematic witness chair to explain their choices. Weaving together these interviews with archival footage, often in the same frame, Israeli filmmaker Ra’anan Alexandrowicz has produced a comprehensive and evocative portrait of a key facet of one of the world’s most stubborn and enduring conflicts. The Law in These Parts reveals not only the legal architecture of military occupation, but also its human impact on both Palestinians and Israelis. The film asks a question as troubling as it is unavoidable: Can a modern democracy impose a prolonged military occupation on another people while retaining its core democratic values?
Since Israel conquered the territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the 1967 Six-Day War, the military has issued thousands of orders and laws that impact resident Palestinians. Early on in the film, Alexandrowicz explains his motives when he calls this ad hoc system of Israeli military rule “a unique system [that] very few people understand in depth.” The men, retired now, who sit down with the filmmaker to provide that depth are judges, prosecutors and other legal professionals. They are also high-ranking military officers. In the film, they are exceptionally candid about their actions and largely unapologetic, even as they admit inconsistencies and contradictions in the system they built.
Alexandrowicz writes, “I see The Law in These Parts as a film with three ‘layers.’ Primarily, it is a film that explores a system—that system’s genesis, its history and the effect it has on the society that created it. On the second level, it is a film that stares into the eyes of people who developed and operate the system—people who are no different from me or my audience. The film tries to understand how these people see their work. On the third level, The Law in These Parts exposes the hidden seams of the very documentation of a politically charged, complicated subject. Through the film’s storytelling, I hope the viewer is made aware of the parallels between the cinematic structure and the legal one.”
» Kretzmer, David. The Occupation of Justice. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2002.
» POV Press Release.