“Testimony” is the rare movie that contains all the building blocks of an aesthetically powerful political statement, only to fall short in its execution. Put plainly, “Testimony” — which recently screened at the Haifa International Film Festival and the Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival — amounts to a good deal less than the sum of its parts.
If one were to make checklist of ingredients for a good film, “Testimony” would have most, if not all of them. A script based on true and emotionally loaded life experiences? Check. A strong political message? Check. An ensemble cast made up of veteran actors and some relatively fresh faces? Check. The creative use of imagery and cinematography? Check. Yet, at the end of the film, the viewer feels like it just doesn’t hold together.
Blurring the line between documentary, fictionalized reenactment, and a standalone piece of theatrical cinema, “Testimony” creates on film the feeling of a courtroom witness stand. What makes the film politically powerful and relevant is its detailed description of some of the reprehensible acts committed by IDF soldiers against West Bank Palestinians, drawn from actual soldiers’ and civilians’ testimonials documented by the human rights organizations Yesh Din and Breaking the Silence.