Selected release (unrated)
COULD an age-old chickpea recipe be the key to peace in the Middle East? The answer is clearly ''no'', but that hasn't stopped Australian documentary veteran Trevor Graham from pushing ahead with this self-consciously quirky project - part foodie travelogue, part plea for cross-cultural understanding.
Among their other disagreements, it seems that both Israelis and Palestinians believe their respective ancestors invented hummus; the novelist Meir Shalev half-jokingly cites the Old Testament in support of Israel's claim.
It's a premise that might have inspired a three-minute segment on the ABC youth current affairs program Hungry Beast, or on one of John Safran's comedy shows. Like Safran, Graham works his private life into the story - recalling how he grew up in suburbia eating tinned spaghetti, before a Jewish girlfriend introduced him to hummus in his teens.
From then on, he tells us, he became a lifelong ''hummus tragic''. But none of this personal testimony carries much conviction: coming from a filmmaker in his 50s, the gee-whiz tone sounds painfully forced.
Graham is the kind of ''even-handed'' observer who would seemingly rather die than take a stand. Still, at best the film makes a straightforwardly valid point, using hummus as a symbol of the ancient links between many cultures in the region.
At worst, the cutesy digital graphics and folksy anecdotes seem designed to trivialise the issues at stake. There's only so far you can go in comparing one of the world's most intractable conflicts to a squabble over a dip.