Jimmy Carter Man From Plains Jonathan Demme

Jimmy Carter Man From Plains Jonathan Demme
When former U.S. President Jimmy Carter published his book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid in late 2006, he unleashed an angry debate about the Israeli-Palestine conflict and was accused of anti-Semitism. After visiting Palestine, Carter compared Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to South Africa’s infamous Apartheid policy, which reduced blacks to second-class status. Renowned filmmaker Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) chronicles Carter’s tumultuous book tour where the gentleman peanut farmer from Georgia was attacked by the American media yet was lauded by readers who flocked to his book signings. It is impossible to separate Carter’s book, the Palestinian issue and Demme’s film. How a viewer regards Carter’s book will colour his reaction to this documentary. That said, credit Demme for including criticisms of Carter, whether from a militant Jew in a Manhattan bar or Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz. Most of Carter’s critics attack his character without reading his book or challenging his views. The notable exceptions are an Israeli TV journalist and students at Brandeis University, two highlights of the film. Demme and producer Neda Armian’s joint audio commentary adds little insight into Carter or the film’s production process; their comments are lightweight and too laudatory. However, the DVD’s bonus footage is illuminating. A book signing at a Chicago Costco finds a woman hissing "treason” at an unflappable Carter. An interview with his publisher offers another dimension to the book tour: unexpected brisk business on a touchy subject. Carter’s reflections on Rachel Clark, a black woman who helped raise him as a child and defined his views on segregation, explain a key aspect of his personality. Overall, these ten outtakes are amazing and would have added more depth to the finished film. Inexplicably they were omitted, even though Demme had final cut. What’s left is a flawed but well-made tribute. (Sony Classics)