Men of War and Peace: Behind the Scenes at Camp David in Back Door Channels


Back Door Channels: The Price of Peace opens with a four-minute history of 4,000 years’ worth of conflict in the Middle East. Although the next 90 minutes are dedicated to the decade leading up to the Israeli-Egyptian treaty brokered in 1979, the effect is no less head spinning. Untangling the ideological and geographical disputes knotting that corner of the world could take lifetimes. Generational payback in particular entrenches aggression over centuries; it makes a certain sense that resolution also hinges on personal connection, as Back Door Channels points out in its comprehensive but unavoidably wonky inside story of how Egyptian president Anwar al-Sadat and Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin were persuaded to spit and shake hands. Director Harry Hunkele digs deep into news archives and an international rolodex to recreate the diplomatic intrigue that eventually brought the players to Jimmy Carter’s Camp David retreat for a week’s worth of highly intermediated haggling. Human characters emerge from photo ops and heroes from the shadows. Though the fate of “naïve” Carter and the “visionary” Sadat form a dark underline, the film ventures to end on a positive note: Say what you will about the region’s current shitshow, but least it doesn’t include war with Egypt.