Mustafa, a Palestinian construction worker, lives in a West Bank home a mere 200 meters away from his wife and children, on the other side of the Israeli border wall. Though eligible for an Israeli ID, Mustafa sacrifices living with his family in resistance to what he believes are unjust laws enforced by the occupying Israeli government, so he instead uses his work permit to visit daily. The arrangement is functional, until one day Mustafa gets a call every parent dreads: his son has been seriously injured and brought to an Israeli hospital. Rushing to cross the border checkpoint, Mustafa is denied on a technicality. Stopping at nothing to reach his child, a 200 meter distance becomes a 200 kilometer odyssey, as the increasingly desperate Mustafa attempts to smuggle himself to the other side of the wall.

Featuring a mesmerizing central performance by Ali Suliman (PARADISE NOW, JACK RYAN), 200 METERS “persuasively captures the grinding indignities of day to day Palestinian life” (Screen Daily) in an impressive feature debut by writer/director Ameen Neyfeh that expertly balances tender family drama and frenetic political thriller.

What We Thought:

Going into 200 Meters I expected a political/religious based film about one side being better than the other. I expect that about any story involving Israel and Palestine. The film is that way, but it also isn’t. And that’s why it’s watchable for someone who doesn’t have a horse in the race.

Yes the film is about a Palestinian man trying to illegally cross over into Israel to get to a hospital his son was taken to. Yes this journey would have been easier if this man had followed all the rules prior, but ultimately it’s not about those rules and regulations. It’s about a father making his way to his son.

It shows the checkpoints and armed guards between these two nations. There are some biased people in the film, but I wouldn’t say the film itself is biased. The lead has one goal and one goal only, get to the hospital. There are other characters along the way all trying to illegally cross over as well, but the focus is this father.

The film shows the daily life of this family in this situation being 200 meters apart. It doesn’t say who is right and who is wrong it simply says this is their life. The family would love to be together, but it shows them making due and how they stay connected with their lights from across the border. All of this could be very heavy handed showing how bad one side is towards the other, but ultimately to me, it just shows that it is what it is and you go about it the best you can.

It’s because the film isn’t that heavy handed that I enjoyed 200 Meters. The lead actor is very good and it shows what daily life is like for families living around this area, but it also shows what someone will go through for their family. Not beating the viewer over the head with a message and focusing on the father trying to get to his son is the proper way to highlight what’s happening there, but also entertaining the audience first.

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