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RACHEL is a startlingly rigorous, fascinating and deeply moving investigatory documentary that examines the death of peace activist and International Solidarity Movement (ISM) member Rachel Corrie, who was crushed by an Israeli army bulldozer in the Gaza Strip in 2003. A few weeks after her little-reported death, an inquiry by Israeli military police concluded that Corrie died in an accident. Simone Bitton (WALL), an award-winning documentary filmmaker who is a citizen of both France and Israel, has crafted a dispassionate but devastating essay investigating the circumstances of Rachel Corrie's death-including astounding eyewitness testimony from activists, soldiers, Israeli Defense Force army spokespersons and physicians, as well as insights from Corrie's parents, mentors and diaries. In assembling a thorough and candid account of the event, using both visual and narrative evidence, Bitton's quietly persistent questioning manages to accomplish what the inadequate legal proceedings and the overheated press coverage did not: an unflinching examination that refuses to exculpate or equivocate. By aligning her filmmaking methodology with the ISM's guidelines to state only objective and concrete details without placing judgment, Bitton examines the circumstances surrounding the unresolved case of Corrie's death. The film begins like a classic documentary, but soon develops, transcending its subject and establishing a candid new visual approach for bearing witness. With understated cinematic techniques, Bitton captures the spirit of Rachel's youth, idealism, and political commitment amidst sweeping landscapes of Gaza and a portrait of daily life under ever-present military aggression. -- (C) Women Make Movies … More
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Critic Reviews for Rachel
The film tries so hard to emulate cold court testimony that it misses a crucial fact. A girl died.
A poignant documentary about the death of an American idealist working for the liberation of the Palestinian people and peace in the Middle-East.
It's impressive that documentarian Simone Bitton manages to remain neutral for so much of her film.
Simone Bitton's Rachel purports to be an only mildly political investigation of an undeniably polemical tragedy.
[B]est at . . .probing . . . Israeli government's justifications, but doesn't bring same level of inquisition in looking at how Rachel arrived [at Gaza] that fateful day.
Bitton operates at a cool, investigatory remove that's not as objective as it looks ... nevertheless, it's a well structured, sometimes riveting piece of information gathering.
It is a disturbing and heartbreaking portrait of a lost life amidst an environment of perpetual violence.
Unfiltered truths collide with spin, touching on young American peace activist Rachel Corrie, buried alive by the Israeli military in Palestine, as the director solemnly contemplates the only visual trace of the crime, 'the obscenity of the photograph.'
Rachel is an example of how to tell a complicated, controversial story without sacrificing humanity, heart or a sense of horror.
Bitton, thorough in her research, shows but never tells, letting the evidence speak for itself.
A moving account of the martyrdom of Rachel Corrie directed by an Arab Jew, just one of many Israelis and Jews of other countries beginning to question a brutal system that killed this idealistic young American and countless Palestinians.
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