Always optimistic: Netflix movie with Shimon Peres focuses on political, emotional stability

By | July 12, 2022

A children’s book by Ruth Krauss was called The Carrot Seed, first published in 1945, is a small read that contains a large punch. In it, the main character, a little boy with no name, plants a seed in the ground among a cast of naysayers. His brother, his father, even his mother were skeptical of his efforts, despite the fact that the boy regularly weeded and watered the seed.

“It’s not going to come out,” they said, urging him to move on with things.

He continued, however, and at the end of the thin volume, sure, there came out an orange carrot with a leafy top, “as the boy knew that would happen.”

This is a fitting analogy to longtime Israeli statesman Shimon Peres, who was a self-ascribed dreamer, regardless of the obstacle (or “challenge,” as optimists like to say).

“People said I was a dreamer,” Perez said. “That’s true. But ask me this: What’s wrong? Who says people who don’t dream are right?”

Israeli President Shimon Peres, Nov. 11, 2009. Credits: Elza Fiúza via Wikimedia Commons.

These lines are less than five minutes into a new, two -hour documentary called “Never Stop Dreaming: The Life and Legacy of Shimon Peres” by Moriah Films, a division of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, to be released on July 13 at Netflix. The theme, which is easily apparent and a bit thick at times, focuses on Peres as non-cynical, something that is rare in the volatile arena that is the Middle East.

Like several other founding fathers (and a mother) —David Ben-Gurion, Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir, Golda Meir — Perez (Szymon Perski) was born in Eastern Europe in a shtetl called Vishneva, then Poland and now in Belarus. Like them, he spoke and read many languages, useful in politics, diplomacy and nation building.

He arrived in 1934 in what was then British Mandatory Palestine when he was young, entering the sixth grade at Balfour Elementary School in Tel Aviv. In short order, he became a youth leader, lived in a kibbutz, joined the Haganah, lived and worked in the United States and, after the founding of modern-day Israel, became a member of the Knesset, holding numerous positions in the ministry. , and serves as both prime minister and president.

Shimon Peres at age 13, August 1, 1936. Credits: National Photo Collection of Israel/Government Press Office via Wikimedia Commons.

Peres is linked to almost every historic moment in Israeli history in his 93 years, which was recognized, especially among young people, as he aged before passing away in September 2016, when the film began.

Director/writer Richard Trank recalled spending time with Peres over the years and let him know he wanted to make a documentary. The response? “Who wants to make such a movie?” It turns out that Trank did, production began when Peres was still alive, though not for long. Instead, it has become a legacy film — one that will drop to 190 countries, including Arab -speaking countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Jordan and Egypt, with subtitles in 30 languages.

Trank thinks the film is especially important at a time when “everyone has become very pessimistic, especially when it comes to politics.” He said that until the last days of Perez, the nonagenarian “had a belief that there were better days ahead. I think this is a good message. It shows real leadership. ”

“We should ask for more of the people we choose as leaders,” he added.

According to Trank, Perez is all about Israel and Zionism, as well as modesty and resilience. “The things that a normal person can beat are that you can’t beat him. His life is a lesson about dreaming big. ”

From Left: Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center Rabbi Marvin Hier with film director and writer Richard Trank, and Israeli statesman Shimon Peres. Credits: Moriah Films.

‘He worked to make things happen’

The documentary offers a timeline of Perez’s life, including his marriage to Sonya Gelman in 1945; they go on to have three children (one was stricken with polio). These include testimonials of celebrities, political and others, pointing to Peres ’virtues. Barbra Streisand sings her praises, and the film itself is narrated by George Clooney.

There are cameos of former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, though perhaps former President George W. Bush summed up Peres, saying, “I think he’s the kind of guy who teaches that leadership should be optimistic and think about how to forge a better tomorrow together. He is constantly working on ways to improve the lives of many people. There are discouraging moments, but [he] Disappointing moments never allowed him to shrink from doing what he wanted to do. “

Shimon Peres with film director and writer Richard Trank. Credits: Moriah Films.

Or believe in. Los Angeles-based Trank, an Academy Award winner who has been making films for three decades with 15 to his credit — two Oscars winners for Best Feature Documentary (“Genocide” in 1981 and “The Long Way Home” in 1998 ) —It was mentioned over and over again, people told Perez that this or that “will never happen. But he worked to make things happen.

Like being Israel’s premier at president. Such as the creation of the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation. Like showing the world that someone born before the age of television can be a social-media rock star, as he did at the celebrations that marked his 90th birthday.

Is he none of his critics? Of course not. Are his political decisions always spot-on? Definitely not. Are his detractors right? Yes and no. But that, as they say, is politics.

Or as Peres was known to have quipped: “Optimists and pessimists are both dying. How do you want to live? “

Shimon Peres (standing, third from right) with his family, circa 1930 (taken between 1920 and 1930). Credits: National Photo Collection of Israel/Government Press Office via Wikimedia Commons.


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