Killer Movie Reviews

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THE GREEN PRINCE — Nadav Schirman, Mossab Hassan Yousef, and Gonen Ben Yitzak Interview

Nadav Schirin, Gonen Ben Yitzak, Mossab Hassan Yousef , San Franisco, CA 7/25/14

Nadav Schirin, Gonen Ben Yitzak, Mossab Hassan Yousef , San Franisco, CA 7/25/14

When THE GREEN PRINCE made its west coast debut at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival on July 24, 2014, no one in the audience knew that the subjects of the documentary, former Shin Beit agent Gonen Ben Yitzak, and Mossab Hassan Yousef, the Palestinian son of a founder of Hamas, and the man Gonen recruited to spy for Israel, would be doing the Q&A with director Nadav Schirman following the screening. There was a gasp from the sold-out house, and then a round of applause and a standing ovation at a tribute to the courage of these two men.

Their appearance was another proof of the trust that they put in each other, and, not to overstate the fact,  in the human race as a whole to prefer peace and co-existance to war and suspicion. It was one of the most moving things I have ever been privileged to witness. Talking with the three of them the next day was also a privilege of the first order and and honor that I don’t think will ever be topped.

In a converstation that covered how Gonen and Mossab learned to trust each other against overwhelming odds, how they have remained optomistic about the chances for peace in their mutual homeland, and Mossab’s conviction that we are all the children of light, I was even more moved thatn I had been by the events of the night before. What struck me was the way the three men were so obviously close in their personal as well as professional lives, something that came up when I asked Nadav about why the film was in English, why Mossab didn’t tell his story in Arabic, and Gonen in Hebrew. It came down to equality. And what I thought was a silly question turned out to be yet another illuminating moment on mutual respect.

Shirman’s documentary eschews politics in favor of the human story of how these two individuals overcame deeply ingrained suspicion in order to save lives rather than promote a political or cultural agenda, a decision that found them at odds with those whom they most wanted to serve. It’s based in part on Mossab’s book, SON OF HAMAS, and his previous work includes THE CHAMPAGNE SPY and IN THE DARK ROOM. The film won the World Cinema Documentary Audience Award at Sundance this year.

I may do interviews in my life that are as timely and/or important, but I will never do one that is moreso than this one.

Nadav speaks first, then Gonen, then Mossab

Click here to listen to the interview (24:34) THE GREEN PRINCE — Nadav Schirman, Mossab Hassan Yousef, and Gonen Ben Yitzak Interview.

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