«What If? Ehud Barak On War And Peace»

On April 26, 2021, the press conference dedicated to the film «What If? Ehud Barak On War And Peace» by Israeli director Ran Tal took place. The film is in the Documentary Competition of the 43rd Moscow International Film Festival. Director and screenwriter Ran Tal participated in the press conference. 
78-year-old Ehud Barak is the controversial former prime minister, decorated and criticized commander on the battlefield, and one of the leading figures of the Zionist movement. He is also the initiator of Israel’s assassination plan of Yasser Arafat. In this film, Barak observes with disillusioned clarity his own history and the history of the State Israe, twenty years after the failure of the 2000 Camp David summit.
«I came up with the film's idea after re-reading «War And Peace» by Tolstoy and «The Hedgehog And The Fox» by Isaiah Berlin. I spent quite a while thinking that it's essential to go back in time to understand the present — Berlin's book was published in 1953, Tolstoy writes about the 1812 events, the war with Napoleon. And when I thought about the questions raised by Tolstoy, I realized that the world around us is composed of countless people, countless locations, and one can think that a leader’s role isn’t a big one in this process. When I started thinking about the role of a personality in history, Ehud Barak instantly came to mind. I wasn’t looking for some historian, but for someone who is trying to influence the historical processes, can analyze things very precisely, but is also able to stand back and see the bigger picture while raising deeper intellectual questions. I don’t know if it’s the case in Russia, but we don’t have a lot of people like this in Israel. So I wrote to Ehud Barak at once, offering him to discuss historical events and facts from different angles. And he agreed,» Ran Tal said. 
Prior to the shooting, the director had a few preliminary meetings with Barak to discuss the film, the conversation itself took 4 days to shoot, with 20 hours of non-stop interview as a result.  
«The esthetic decision to let Ehud Barak speak on his own was a bit dangerous, because he has to hold your attention for the entire 90-minute film. But it also became a challenge that was exciting to work with,» the director said. 
Tal believes that you can't treat his film as «a historical documentary per se», but it's definitely autobiographical. 
«We take a few points in history and ask ourselves, «And what would have happened if… » And it's a question that doesn't have an unconditioned response, because history doesn’t tolerate conjunctive mood. Despite that, I thought that it’s essential to ask these questions — and in 1948, Ehud Barak was a child who saw Arabic villages around the place where he lived. Time passed, and he became a major character in history, trying to fight with huge waves of history, but, unfortunately, he seems to be failing,» the director said. 
The film was shown at a festival in Jerusalem in December, and then was released on Israeli cable TV and, according to Ran Tal, «provoked a whole spectrum of various emotions». 
«Ehud Barak is either hated or admired in Israel, there is no middle ground. He is the biggest opponent to the current premier Benjamin Netanyahu, he is a hero that draws the fire upon himself, and it’s very exciting for cinema,» Tal concluded. 
The Festival Daily