Opening: THE GREEN PRINCE Documents A Moral Quagmire
The documentary The Green Prince tells the story of a unique connection between two men.
Mosab Hassan Yousef is the son of one of the founders of the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Arrested at the age of 17, he was placed under the protection of Shin Bet, the Israeli equivalent of the CIA or MI6. There he meets his handler, Gonen Ben Yitzchak, who eventually turns him into a critical informant for the Israelis.
It wouldn't do justice to the film to detail the back-and-forths that take place after this initial encounter, for much of the pleasure from the work delves from the surprise. Suffice it to say, there has rarely been a work, documentary or no, that so thoroughly details both the inner machinations of the Hamas operations, or the interrogation and handling efforts of the hyper secretive Shin Bet.
For those on either side of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, there's much to learn from the film. Just as the Prince must make his way through a moral quagmire, fighting disillusionment at the cost of betrayal, so to does the film portray the situation in its many facets and complexities.
Shot with a stark, almost noir look, the talking head interviews are intercut well, showcasing often the radically different perspectives each participant brings to the table. Yet it is their shared goals that are the most remarkable - it's easy, after all, to peg in the Middle East the many differences, much harder to find deep and abiding connections and similarities under the facade of conflict.
Originally published in slightly different form during the Sundance Film Festival in January 2014. The Green Prince opens in select theaters in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, September 12, via Music Box Films. Visit the official site for more information.