Director Harry Hunkele (left) interviews Patricia Kahane. (Channel Production Films )
The historical jigsaw puzzle that led to 1979's Israel-Egypt peace treaty is comprehensively, if sluggishly examined by director Harry Hunkele in his documentary "Back Door Channels: The Price of Peace." Packed with impressive archival footage and rare interviews with dozens of the era's participants and observers, the film remains all too timely given the conflicts that continue to plague the Middle East.
After a brief, animated prologue that zips through thousands of years of Jewish-Muslim discord, the movie settles in for a near one-hour recollection of the twisty decade following 1967's Arab-Israeli Six-Day War wherein a crisscross of international officials worked largely behind the scenes to help maintain peace and stability in this volatile region. Its significance aside, Hunkele's academic retelling of this period is dizzyingly dense and, frankly, dull.
The movie perks up a bit as it details how, in 1978, U.S. President Carter (inspired, Carter graciously reveals here, by a suggestion from wife Rosalynn) met with Israel's Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat for a secret — and highly dramatic — conference that led to the Camp David peace accords. Despite later blow-back for the summit's three leaders, theirs remains a remarkable negotiation worth remembering.
If only Hunkele could have found a livelier way to present it all.
"Back Door Channels." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes. At Laemmle's Sunset 5, West Hollywood.