That is pretty much the idea behind the finest documentary I’ve seen in years, The Passengers. The documentary takes a look at two young men, Gezi aned Demoz. They are closer than brothers, both Jewish men from Ethiopia. Both were among the 9,000 Ethiopian jews not already brought to Israel to join the population of 120,000 Jewish Ethiopians who have settled there. The Law of Return gives the right of all Jewish people to make Aliyah, to immigrate to Israel, but in recent years, the immigration of Ethiopian Jews has stalled out. Gezi and Demoz come to the United States to bring attention to the struggle of the Ethiopian Jews who have not yet been returned to Israel, and the difficulties they face.
This is, on one level, an issue doc. We all know them, but The Passengers goes so far beyond that. For starters, the cinematography is amazing. It’s precise without the sort of journalism-on-film feel that too many docs end up pushing through to screen. It’s beautifully shot, with a dynamic camera that feels alive, even with simple interview set-ups. The editing is crisp, and it knows exactly when a moment needs to linger, when shift will bring the depth of a moment into full view. It’s incredibly easy to watch, and the way it is constructed kept me through every single frame of the film.
I can’t recommend The Passengers enough. I was lucky enough to get to write it up for the program guide, and watching it one freezing December morning I was incredibly moved. So much so, I wrote a letter. I don’t write letters. I just don’t. That’s how powerful, and important, I think The Passengers is.
You can see The Passengers at Cinequest - https://payments.cinequest.org/websales/pages/info.aspx?evtinfo=85234~78899376-35a9-4153-8303-e1557be2dc32&epguid=d52499c1-3164-429f-b057-384dd7ec4b23&#.XEpNDFVKhdg