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The Independent Critic

Shimon Dotan
Shimon Dotan, Oron Adar
106 Mins.

 "The Settlers" Screens at 2016 Heartland Film Festival 
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Documentaries need not be entertaining. 

In an era when documentarians like Michael Moore and Morgan Spurlock often steal the documentary spotlight, it can be easy to forget that documentaries need not serve up entertaining distractions alongside their agendas, meaningful information and societal examinations. 

Shimon Dotan's The Settlers isn't necessarily an "entertaining" documentary, though it is an intimate, challenging and incredibly effective film that looks at the core of the most daunting challenges facing Israel and the international community today by offering a comprehensive view of Jewish settlers in the occupied territories of the West Bank. 

Currently screening as a finalist for Best Documentary Feature at the Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis, The Settlers is a fresh documentary on a familiar subject that blossoms in the hands of Dotan, a veteran filmmaker whose ability to present information in a clear and concise manner, often unflinchingly, makes the film a remarkably compelling view. 

The film is largely presented through a historical lens chronologically with 1948's founding of the State of Israel serving as the beginning and flowing through modern day. The questions asked in the film are complex and involve political, theological and sociological conflicts and ramifications. The questions are not easily answered, though to his credit Dotan doesn't really try to answer them as much as he tries to immerse the less knowledgeable viewer into the sheer magnitude of it all. Much of the film is devoted to the settlers, individuals who are passionate yet often uncomfortably extreme in their beliefs. 

Dotan's film is certainly one of the better films around this subject matter in terms of its examination of fullness of the issues involved and the intimate and universal ways in which it all absolutely matters. At times the film is disturbing, though one can't help but think that it really should be, and it would be impossible to not admire Dotan's ability to trigger a dialogue that needs to occur in a way that also an immensely satisfying cinematic experience. 

For more information on The Settlers, visit the film's website linked to in the credits or the Heartland Film Festival website.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic

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