More than ever, moving images – body cameras that monitor police conduct, video reviews of athletic event rules – capture undeniable truths. But can “evidence”, prepared and dependent on human interpretation, really compel us to see eye to eye?
In “The Viewing Booth,” filmmaker Rannon Alexandrowicz tests this hypothesis.
Filmed in a dark studio at Temple University that resembles both a confession and a laboratory, the documentary considers a young woman’s reactions to videos of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Out of a broad contingent of students, Maya Levy, a Jewish American supporter from Israel, perceives a selection of videos – mostly by human rights watchdog group B’Salem – that she casts doubtful questions about their authenticity. In one video, soldiers from the Israel Defense Forces raid the home of a Palestinian family in the middle of the night, waking up and questioning several children. Levy, who we see voicing his objections in close-up from the perspective of a computer camera, is convinced the video is manipulating us to feel sympathy for the family. Alexandrowicz watches the shared screen in an adjoining room, impressed by Levi’s incredulity.
Six months later, Levy is invited back to the studio to review the footage of his reactions, effectively replaying bits from the first half of the documentary with comments from Levy and Alexandrowicz. In short: Images are not enough to challenge one’s beliefs.
Although moderately compelled to watch one person’s objections in real time, “The Viewing Booth” touches on a depressing truth about audiences in the digital age that might have felt novel a decade ago. With images and indiscriminate claims of “fake news” inundated with us, it’s no surprise that our ideological bubbles are actually quite difficult to burst.
not evaluated. In English, Arabic and Hebrew with subtitles. in Theaters.