(2003)4Josh RalskeYoav Shamir's Checkpoint is an incisive documentary that effectively conveys the impossibility of retaining one's humanity under inhumane conditions. While some will see it as a polemic, Shamir, a former checkpoint soldier himself, clearly feels sympathy for the young men thrust into this terrible situation. Some feel that they are performing an important service -- keeping their country safe -- although the film contradicts that assertion. Most seem to see it as an unpleasant job, and they frequently tell the aggrieved Palestinians they turn away from the checkpoints, "It's not my decision." The presence of Shamir's camera clearly has some effect. Palestinians forced to wait endlessly just to visit relatives, go to their jobs, or return home complain more vociferously than they otherwise might. Israeli soldiers struggle to show their humanity (as in the case of one who embraces a cantankerous Palestinian pastor) or, alternately, assume a pugnacious macho posture, puffing out their chests and talking about the "animals" they need to control. The filmmaker recorded these goings-on for two years, and presents these incidents simply, with little direct interference. Though the feature is relatively short and well edited, a (possibly intended) feeling of redundancy does set in by the end. It's impossible not to be moved by the wailing of a Palestinian boy needlessly and absurdly separated from his mother. "Terrorists don't come through the checkpoints," says one exasperated Palestinian. That point is questionable, but Checkpoint makes it abundantly clear that whatever slight added measure of security these checkpoints provide, they dehumanize participants on both sides, and foment hatred.