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  • 12A
  • Documentary
  • 2005
  • 86 mins

Diameter Of The Bomb

Diameter Of The Bomb


Steven Silver and Andrew Quigley's documentary looks beyond the headlines to the much broader impact of a suicide bombing in Jerusalem


On June 18, 2002, a suicide bomb tore through bus 32A in Jerusalem, killing 20 and injuring over 50. The documentary Diameter Of The Bomb traces the explosion's ripple effect through two communities locked in mutual anguish, while offering in its own dialectic form a model for something like a solution to the endless horror.

Anatomising the event from all angles, the film reveals the workings of the Hamas outfit that planned the bombing, of the police force that raced (in vain) to prevent it, of the firemen, trauma doctors, forensic examiners and religious volunteers who together clean up the damage left by the bomb, and of the Israeli Secret Servicemen who "target killed" or incarcerated the terrorist cell responsible. Most of all, though, Diameter Of The Bomb focuses on the friends and family of the victims, and, by allowing them to give voice to their grief, rage, love, hate, hope and despair, shows how, long after it has been detonated, a bomb's shockwaves continue to reverberate through different people's lives.

The interviews that director Silver and his production team have compiled are extraordinarily compelling and wide-ranging, but their real impact derives from the manner in which they have been arranged. Here implacably opposed viewpoints are artfully juxtaposed, as the comments of Palestinians and Israelis, perpetrators and victims, semi-autonomous terrorists and state-sponsored killers, are all thrown together and mixed up in a semblance of the kind of direct dialogue the region so sorely needs. No wonder that the film's editor, Andrew Quigley, became a co-director, so integral is his work to the film's delicately even-handed approach to ideology.

This kind of thing has been done before in Basque Ball (2003), Julio Medem's defiantly balanced account of the conflict between Spain and the Basque separatist movement; and just as Medem was fiercely, if unfairly, criticised for (supposedly) suggesting a moral equivalence in the sufferings of the families of both ETA terrorists and their victims, there will also no doubt be those who take exception to the way in which Diameter Of The Bomb airs the viewpoints of the suicide bomber's family and (surviving) co-conspirators alongside those of his many victims, and even treats the bomber himself as just another victim - so much so, in fact, that it is a while before it becomes clear that the promising 22-year-old law student seen in home videos and praised for his loving nature by all who knew him is in fact the perpetrator of such an atrocity.

Diameter Of The Bomb pulls no punches in describing in horrific detail the devastating effects of the bomber's act on the flesh and bones of the dead and the psyches of the living (and the still of the bomber's own disembodied face lying flat on a bloody street is a difficult image to erase), but by portraying the bomber himself (and Israel's elite assassins) in a rounded way, the film both defuses the unconstructive demonisation that both sides of the conflict tend to impose on one another, and opens up, however artificially, a conversation between two groups with inveterate grievances who rarely come together. As the father of one victim, himself an Arab-Israeli, puts it, "the solution is to sit down together and talk."

Diameter Of The Bomb ends with the BBC's news coverage of the bombing. This is the 'official' perspective through which most of us come to know of such tragedies; but, seen in the wider context that this multi-faceted film provides, the bare news report resonates so much more deeply, as testimony to blood not just spilt, but mingled, in a broad community of suffering.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Rahamim Zidkiyahu, Michal Biazi, Galila Bugala, Shani Avitzedek, Mohamad Al Ghoul, Aiman Kabha
  • Director: Steven Silver, Andrew Quigley
  • Producer: Georgina Townsley, Claude Bonin, Paul Goldin
  • Photographer: Noel Smart
  • Composer: Christian Henson

In a nutshell

A clinical but horrifying examination of the causes and effects of a terrorist outrage, Diameter Of A Bomb uses a single explosive event to capture the shared woes of two opposed sides.

by Anton Bitel

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