Honorable Men: The Rise and Fall of Ehud Olmert

Ehud Olmert in Honorable Men. Courtesy of Film Movement.

Honorable Men: The Rise and Fall of Ehud Olmert is the second of two Film Movement documentaries about former Israeli prime ministers.

Much like What If? Ehud Barack on War and Peace, Honorable Men is another film that premiered in 2020 and took forever to find US distribution. Part of it, I assume, was the pandemic but still, it’s no excuse for taking this long in getting a US release. In any event, it was one of three docs that I watched in connection with last week’s Israeli Independence Day.

Prior to becoming the 12th Prime Minister of Israel (2006-09), Olmert served two stints in the cabinet and a decade as mayor of Jerusalem. It’s his time serving as mayor that would later come back to bite him in the tuchas. A member of the centrist Kadima party, he was preceded as Israeli PM by Ariel Sharon. But back to his mayoral term and one of his two cabinet posts. this is where he got in trouble for both accepting bribes and obstructing justice. The investigation into Olmert led him to announce his resignation in summer 2008. But if you’ve learned anything about how Israeli elections work during the past few years, you ought to know that it’s not a simple resignation. Tzipi Livni had won the leadership election but was unable to form a government.

Olmert’s fall came right as peace may have been within grasps. He was in the process of offering a deal to Palestinian President Abbas. At the end of the day, it wasn’t meant to be. Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud going back into power put off any hopes of a peace plan.

The film takes an interesting approach to the rise and fall of Olmert. He didn’t go jail until February 2016 because of eight years of both trials and appeals. In any event, the two-year-sentence would finally be underway. Interestingly, filmmaker Roni Aboulafia had incredible access to the disgraced prime minister during his jail stint. She had weekly phone calls in which the prime minister was incredibly intimate in telling his side of the story. The weave the calls and interviews with investigators, lawyers, etc. throughout the 2-hour run time. Some two-hour films can run at a fast pace but this one feels every single minute of it. I suppose this is also because of the subtitles. If Hebrew is not your native tongue, you’ll have to read every minute of the film in order to understand it.

In watching this film and seeing Olmert forced to resign, it makes one wonder how a corrupt Netanyahu is back in office. This doesn’t even begin to take the judicial reform plan into account. The awful reform bill has led Israelis to protest in the thousands for weeks now. But I digress.

Honorable Men: The Rise and Fall of Ehud Olmert is a real life House of Cards, for better or worse.

DIRECTOR: Roni Aboulafia
SCREENWRITERS: Roni Aboulafia, Ilan Sheizaf
FEATURING: Ehud Olmert

Film Movement released Honorable Men: The Rise and Fall of Ehud Olmert on Digital/VOD on April 14, 2023. Grade: 3.5/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.