UPDATED with video: For his documentary The Human Factor, about the elusive quest for a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians, director Dror Moreh spent time with American diplomats involved in those negotiations. A lot of time.
“With [negotiator] Dennis Ross I spent 35 hours,” Moreh says during the film’s panel at Deadline’s Contenders Documentary awards-season event. “With each one of them more than 10, 12 hours.”
Moreh’s documentary, from Sony Pictures Classics, sheds new light on why peace talks going back decades ultimately failed.
“You get those amazing stories, behind the scenes of what happened really, of the human relationship and the human drama between the characters that are in the movie,” he says. Those characters include former Secretary of State James Baker and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat.
To illustrate the story, Moreh gained access to exceptional materials.
“Luckily enough I got those really unbelievable, amazing still photos which were shot inside the [negotiating] rooms, which nobody has seen before,” he says. “And all those amazing stories…came to life through those visual references, still photos. So when you hear [President] Clinton trying to persuade Arafat in Camp David, ‘Please accept the offer,’ you see Clinton.”
Moreh said he’s not optimistic about a settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict anytime soon. But he knows what it will take.
“You need very good…American negotiators who can take those two leaders and bring them together,” he says, “and understand that each side has to give up some, cannot really get all of what he wants.”
Check out the panel discussion above.