Shot over 18 months in the Middle East, Encounter Point is another in the long line of sincere, low-budget (this one cost $300,000-400,000) films intended to shed light on the terrible conflict between Israel and Palestine. In Encounter Point’s case, the conflict is explored via a handful of subjects, all of whom have been directly affected by its violence. Robi Damelin, a South African woman whose uncle was one of Nelson Mandela’s lawyers, lost her Israeli reservist son to a sniper’s bullet. Ali Aboawwad lost a brother to the conflict, and himself spent years in an Israeli prison. Shlomo Zagman, meanwhile, grew up in a settlement and spent most of his adult life there, sharing the far-right views of his neighbors; gradually, however, his perspective broadened and he left the settlement, and founded a peace movement.
While there are powerful individual stories in Encounter Point, the film’s major weakness is that it fails to effectively tie those stories together. They are presented, end to end, without a specific setting, and it’s impossible for the viewer to know what pieces of information to hold on to. Are we to remember their names? Will these people be interacting later? At first, it feels as if bios are being sketched in preparation for a later, dramatic convergence. When the convergence never happens, however, the audience is left trying to mentally backtrack, and to create a new context for the stories from remembered fragments.