Some intellectuals define cinema as a tool that “reshapes the consciousness in the minds of the audience”. Although this saying is disputed, no one can deny that cinema is an important communicative tool that forms a mental image of the reality of individuals.
Opening new paths to justice and victory for the victims, some movies have made an incredible turn of events. The Thin Blue Line is a famous example that explains this role. The American documentary, produced in 1988, dealing with the case of a man named Randall Dale Adams, who was falsely convicted of murdering a policeman and was sentenced to death, but bringing his case to light through this film reopened the case which led to his release a few days before the date of his execution.
Contrary to the message of the movie The Thin Blue Line, whose producers rescued a potential victim, movies can also play a nasty role that undermines victims' rights and makes them vulnerable to further tragedies. This happens when some film producers adopted the narrative of tyrants and perpetrators of violations and crimes, which can create sympathy for them and deny victims any opportunity to show the world their suffering to stop violations against them and serve justice. Such a negative role requires film production companies to take into account that overlooking victims' narratives and covering perpetrators of violations does not make them immune of being partners in these violations, which requires them to exercise due diligence and more care so that their actions are not used as a weapon in the hands of tyrant regimes to improve their image and justify their crimes.
One example of the negative roles that film production companies can play is what Netflix’s production and purchase of the copyrights of many Israeli works, which mostly adopted the Israeli narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Fauda” series, which the company bought its publishing rights and contracted with its producer to participate in the production of falsely narrates the story of members of an Israeli Mista'arvim unit that carry out undercover operations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during their pursuit of a leader of the Palestinian organizations. The series attempts to humanize the thoughts and actions of the Israeli soldier by saying that everything the occupation soldiers do is justified because they seek to restore security and bring peace, regardless of the size of the violations of international law and the international humanitarian law. At the same time, the series depicts the way of thinking of the Palestinians as a community that only thinks of revenge.
The series provides a blatant justification for the extrajudicial killings of civilians, the killing of children and women in the indiscriminate bombing and field executions at checkpoints, and at the same time, it places the Palestinians in the category of the aggressor and the initiator of attacks, and claims that Israel only resorts to violating laws in order to defend itself.
Another Netflix movie is The Red Sea Dive Resort, a movie produced in 2019, in which the famous American actor Chris Evans, plays the role of an Israeli Mossad agent who leads a secret operation to help Ethiopian Jewish refugees escape from Ethiopia to a safe haven in Israel. The concept of the film may be ironic for Palestinians and human rights defenders. Israel, which has been prosecution Palestinians and depriving them of their rights for more than 70 years and causing the suffering of 4.7 million Palestinian refugees and preventing them from returning home is presented in the film as the compassionate father of the persecuted who works to embrace and protect refugees and marginalized groups.
In addition, some of the artworks presented by Netflix were specially produced in order to promote and publicize the Israeli Mossad and glorify the heroism of its members who carried out dozens of extrajudicial killings, such as the documentary series Inside the Mossad, which is a propaganda series in favor of the Mossad, and the series The Spy, which deals with the biography of spy Eli Cohen who worked in Syria, and the films The Angel and The Spy Who Falled to Earth.
Journalist Ibrahim Arab, whose master thesis is entitled "The Israeli narrative on digital video platforms”, says in on one of the Al-Jazeera podcast programs that the reasons behind Netflix's production and purchase of the copyright of Israeli works are: The low cost [whether producing them or purchasing the rights to publish them]... They are of a high quality; the topics that these works address, whether those related to post-traumatic stress disorder after wars or the search for heroes [which are topics of a great demand, especially by the youths]”.
Regardless of the motives of Netflix, which has about 135 million subscribers around the world, to adopt the Israeli narrative, this contributes to the Israeli occupation’s crimes against the Palestinians and portrays the perpetrators of these crimes as heroes and thus encourages Israel to continue its practices.
Entertainment and profit from cinematic and artistic production should not come at the expense of human rights and victims who have nothing except to try in every possible way to communicate their suffering to the world for the sake of a limited hope that there will be an action to serve justice and help them.