Often documentaries occupy this strange middle ground, a space between the attempt at uncovering some sort of objective truth versus the intentions and biases of the filmmakers that in either subtle or overt ways shape the narrative. The best docs don’t shy away from this tension, making it work for the doc rather than against it, making the contradictions of both form and content manifest to the view.
Beyond the Fear tackles this tension in both subtle and overt ways, telling the story of Yigal Amir and those that surround him. Amir, the assassin of Ytizhak Rabin, found himself at the center of numerous ethical and political debates about whether a country founded on the ashes of intolerance would treat the murderer of their own leader with humanity. Rather than detailing Amir’s crime or his own beliefs, we’re led through the story via the most tabloid of tales, following the woman who fought to have relations with the imprisoned man.
For audiences outside of Israel the story will be at times shocking, but even for those well versed in the events there’s plenty of revelations that get beyond the sordid headlines. Further, the filmmakers themselves struggle overtly off and on camera with the nature of this story, threading the line while trying to avoid exploitation of the situation, aggrandizement of the crime or over simplification of the events in question. To their credit the film does an exemplary job at avoiding these pitfalls. As per the title, this film goes beyond the fear, distrust and simple soundbites to get to some raw, revealing truths that are as unsettling as they are compelling. We’re left with a strong, complex, engaging film that’s both a fine piece of journalism as well as a deeply introspective work.