Primetime War a film by Noam Shalev and Yosi Leon
The 52 minutes documentary examines the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a new perspective: The video camera’s viewfinder is the peephole into a unique atmosphere, described by veteran TV cameramen who have covered the conflict for the past few years.
Jimmy Michael, a Palestinian cameraman working for the BBC, and Alon Bernstein, an Israeli cameramen working for Associated Press, represent two sides of the hundred year conflict. They are part of a group of professional news cameramen with a rich experience covering the conflict’s war zones.
Cameramen are often hurt, attacked and injured, either by stones or by bullets. Jimmy and Alon try to understand what is the cause and what is the effect. Through their reactions to the scenes they have videotaped, Primetime War investigates the role of the camera in the midst of a violent conflict. Is it a mere recorder of events, or is it a catalyst for violence? In one scene, cameramen are filming daily clashes of Palestinian teenagers throwing stones at Israeli soldiers who retaliate with rubber bullets. All of a sudden, a bomb is thrown into the soldiers’ position, injuring them. The reaction of the cameramen, both Palestinian and Israeli, to the horrifying situation is a unique document of the media’s role in the war zone.
While neither can detach himself from his nationality and background, the cameramen provide us – the viewers – with a fresh insight on how news are gathered and reported, and expose a wide angle perspective on the men behind the camera, a point of view almost always hidden from the viewer.
Primetime War was filmed over a period of one year, from May 1997 to April 1998. The film follows events at they unfold – clashes in Hebron, suicide terrorists exploding in Jerusalem, American and British attempts to negotiations between the sides, and riots over Jewish settlements in the vicinity of Jerusalem.