Other Israel Film Festival 2019 Review: SAMARITAN

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)

Those who are of Catholic or other Christian faiths are probably very familiar with the Biblical parable of The Good Samaritan. At the same, it is probably easy to take for granted the actual history and relevance of the Samaritan culture. Samaritans bridge the gap between Israel and Palestine. They are a unique people who share a dual nationality between the two countries. Though their customs and traditions might seem archaic or unusual, they serve as a fascinating example of co-existence from which some cultures could learn.

Director Julien Menanteau focuses his documentary on young Abdallah Cohen, the grandson of the Samaritan High Priest. Though Abdallah has much love for his culture and traditions, he also seems uncertain about his future. The film offers a rather interesting intimate portrait of Samaritan life through Abdallah’s eyes. The Samaritan culture’s population is slowly dwindling in numbers, despite its positive example of existing between two nations at odds.

Overall, I do like this documentary which certainly has its fascinating moments. However, it plays out like either an overextended short film or a documentary feature without a proper ending. As it is offered as a feature-length documentary, the film left me wanting more closure as a viewer. I feel that director Menanteau needed to offer the audience more information about Abdallah’s future leanings rather its abruptly obscure “conclusion.”

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