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Sunday, 08 December 2013 18:58

'The Prime Ministers: The Pioneers' documents early Israeli history

'The Prime Ministers: The Pioneers' documents early Israeli history theprimeministers.org
Written by Diane Carson
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  • Director: Richard Trank
  • Dates: Opened December 6, 2013

Rarely does one living person participate in major international events over two and a half decades. But that's exactly what Yehuda Avner experienced as speechwriter and assistant to five Israeli Prime Ministers beginning in 1958. Director, co/producer and writer Richard Trank's informative, well-researched documentary "The Prime Ministers: The Pioneers" presents Avner on camera, narrating his behind-the-scenes observations.

Based on Avner's book "The Prime Ministers," the documentary begins by briefly covering Avner's earliest years in Manchester, England. He expresses his delight to have won a scholarship to go to Palestine in November 1947. Avner picks up Israel's history with the War of Independence, May 1948 and events that led to his working for Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, including being sent to Independence, Missouri, to meet with President Harry Truman to deliver a letter regarding support for Jewish statehood. Avner also details his work for Yitzhak Rabin and Golda Meir, meetings with President Lyndon Johnson and Henry Kissinger, U.N. Resolution 242, the Six-Day War and the War of Attrition, among other landmark events.

As Avner relates often surprising, first-hand details, director Trank provides a wealth of archival footage from newsreels and public events. Fully illustrating Israel's history, the film brings to life Avner's comments and his amazing involvement over decades. Used sparingly, actors read writings and comments from those involved over footage. Sandra Bullock provides the voice for Golda Meir, Michael Douglas for Yitzhak Rabin, Leonard Nimoy for Levi Eshkol, and Christoph Waltz for Menachem Begin. They don't sound much like their individuals but they do read well and the selections nicely complement events depicted.

"The Prime Ministers: The Pioneers" is the first of two parts, the second ("The Prime Ministers: Soldiers and Peacemakers") is scheduled for release Spring 2014. Based on the quality of this first chapter, I eagerly await that second installment.

"The Prime Ministers: The Pioneers" is In English with a few short sections in Hebrew with English subtitles. At the Des Peres Cinema for a limited engagement.

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