5,000 Feet is the Best
Omer Fast ( Jerusalem, 1972 )
Five Thousand Feet Is the Best takes its name from an excerpt of an interview between Omer Fast and a Predator Drone aerial vehicle operator, now living and working in Las Vegas as a casino security guard. The operator recalls his jobs in Afghanistan and Pakistan, activating the unmanned plane to fire at civilians and militia from the optimum height of 5,000 feet. The film is Fast’s cinematic retelling of this veteran’s story: as it unfolds, the viewer slowly realizes that the character being questioned in a dark hotel room (the actor David O’Hare) by an off-camera interviewer (Fast) is retelling the same stories the drone operator told Fast. Instead of looking for the appropriate news accounts or documentary footage to augment this redacted story, Fast constructs an elaborately detailed, seemingly fictional account—one that is deliberately miscast and misplaced—to retell three alternately compelling and grueling accounts from the original interview session. As the actor recounts these narratives, the film cuts to striking, cinematic recreations of the tales being retold in the actor's voice. Fast’s articulation of the intersection of video game culture, slick Hollywood narrative, government concealment, and the privatization of warfare provides an elliptical and haunting account of its cost, while eschewing the opportunity to moralize or judge.
Jeffrey Grove, DMA unpublished material, 2011.