You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Sundance Film Review: ‘Censored Voices’

Mor Loushy's documentary is built around censored audio tapes from the 1967 Six-Day War.

Amos Oz, Avraham Shapira, Elisha Shelem, Amitai Shelem, Ilan Lotan, Iftach Gutman, Shmolik Shiloni, Pinchas Leviatan, Uri Lis, Yitzhak Kiriati, Micha Chorin, Doron Mor, Ishai Amrami, Amram Hayisra'eli, Nahman Raz, Yossi Limor, Eli Goren, Abishay Grossman, Dany Shor, Avinoam Brog, Yariv Ben-Aharon. (Hebrew and English)

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3457376/

Recordings made by Israeli soldiers just after the 1967 Six-Day War form the crux of “Censored Voices,” a documentary built around purportedly unheard audio tapes censored by the Israeli military. Politically charged and intermittently cutting, if slightly dry and repetitive, the doc may be more specialized than the Oscar-nominated “The Gatekeepers,” a similar look at Israel’s Shin Bet service, but that film’s track record indicates that a U.S. audience exists for this material. At the very least, helmer Mor Loushy’s film will be discussed in Israel and get ample play at Israeli- and Jewish-themed fests.

The Six-Day War resulted in substantial territorial gains for Israel, which took the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank, Gaza and some of the Golan Heights. “Censored Voices” positions itself as something of a corrective. In a director’s statement, Loushy notes that many of the contemporaneous reflections from Israeli soldiers who fought in the war don’t comport with the nationalist sentiment with which Israelis often regard the campaign today.

The interview project was spearheaded by authors Amos Oz and Avraham Shapira, kibbutzniks at the time. Shapira’s book is credited as the basis for the film, according to which the Israeli military allowed only 30% of the recordings to be published.

The documentary’s strategy is to show these former soldiers sitting stoically in the present day, listening to the thoughts they recorded nearly five decades earlier. For the most part, they show little emotion, which may or may not be a stylistic choice. As the tapes play, the film provides context by occasionally cutting to news reports from the period, in which, for instance, ABC News visits a refugee camp in Amman.

The sentiment that the former soldiers overwhelmingly express is ambivalence. Although the film gives a rundown of IDs at the end, for the most part the men are treated as interchangeable. Cards indicate the kibbutz where each testimony was taken and the number of days it had been since the end of the war. The voices speak of regrets about civilian casualties and about uprooting Arabs from villages; one recalls stumbling across a photo of a dead man’s children and realizing he had killed a father.

Because these tapes are from 1967, much of what is said feels prescient. “Are we doomed to bomb villages every decade for defense purposes?” one man asks. Some of the soldiers question their connection to Israel’s historic sites. “If they bombed the Wall today, and it brought Mishi back to life,” says a soldier, referring to a fallen comrade, “I’d say: Bomb it!” The soldiers also anticipate future conflicts. “I don’t believe that this is the last time we’ll have to wear uniforms,” one says.

Loushy skillfully and briskly excerpts the material, although the film falls somewhere on the line between formal documentary and assemblage. (Essentially, the movie is just a delivery mechanism for the recordings.) Tech credits — glossily lensed present-day interviews, anxious scoring and well preserved clips — are in keeping with the genre.

Sundance Film Review: 'Censored Voices'

Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (World Cinema — competing), Jan. 24, 2015. (Also in Berlin Film Festival — Panorama.) Running time: 87 MIN.

Production: (Documentary — Israel-Germany) A One Man Show and kNow Productions presentation in association with Made in Germany, Impact Partners, Yes Docu, Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg/Arte, BBC Storyville, Warrior Poets. (International sales: Dogwoof Global, London.) Produced by Daniel Sivan, Hilla Medalia, Neta Zwebner. Executive producers, Dan Cogan, Danna Stern, Dagmar Mielke, Nick Fraser, Morgan Spurlock, Jeremy Chilnick, Ethan Goldman. Co-producers, Melanie Andernach, Knut Losen, Jenny Raskin.

Crew: Directed by Mor Loushy. Written by Loushy, Daniel Sivan, based on "The Seventh Day: Soldiers' Talk About the Six-Day War" edited by Avraham Shapira. Camera (color, HD), Itai Raziel, Avner Shahaf; editor, Sivan; music, Markus Aust; sound, Stefan Korte; sound designer, Yoss Appelbaum; visual effects, Nimrod Eyal.

With: Amos Oz, Avraham Shapira, Elisha Shelem, Amitai Shelem, Ilan Lotan, Iftach Gutman, Shmolik Shiloni, Pinchas Leviatan, Uri Lis, Yitzhak Kiriati, Micha Chorin, Doron Mor, Ishai Amrami, Amram Hayisra'eli, Nahman Raz, Yossi Limor, Eli Goren, Abishay Grossman, Dany Shor, Avinoam Brog, Yariv Ben-Aharon. (Hebrew and English)

More Film

  • Kalank

    Film Review: ‘Kalank’

    Events leading to the 1947 Partition of India serve as the forebodingly serious backdrop for the exhaustingly overextended razzmatazz of “Kalank,” writer-director Abhishek Varman’s lavish but ponderous Bollywood extravaganza, which opened in the U.S. on more than 300 screens the same day as its Indian release. Despite the preponderance of sets and costumes spectacular enough [...]

  • WGA Agency Packaging Fight Placeholder Writer

    WGA: 92 Percent of Writers Who Signed Statement of Support Have Fired Agents

    The Writers Guild of America estimated that over 92 percent of their members who support a new code of conduct for talent agencies have fired those representatives. Letters announcing formal termination will be delivered on Monday, the guild said in a  late-hitting memo on Thursday, as most agencies will be closed tomorrow in observance of [...]

  • Jimmie Fails Signs With CAA

    'Last Black Man in San Francisco' Star Jimmie Fails Signs With CAA

    Jimmie Fails, co-writer and star of “The Last Black Man in San Francisco,” has signed with CAA for representation. The drama, inspired by Fails’ own life, had its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. In his review for Variety, chief film critic Peter Debruge described the film as “a gorgeous and touchingly idealistic [...]

  • Stuck

    Film Review: 'Stuck'

    A stalled New York City subway carriage serves as a toe-tapping musical Petri dish for six socioeconomically diverse souls in the unique stage-to-screen musical adaptation “Stuck.” Sharing a stylistic template with its 2016 left-coast cousin “La La Land” (which it predated Off-Broadway by a good four years), the film’s 2017 copyright suggests a missed opportunity [...]

  • Gay Chorus Deep South

    Why Airbnb Produced Documentary 'Gay Chorus Deep South,' Its First-Ever Film (EXCLUSIVE)

    The latest player to hit the film-festival circuit may be a bit unexpected: Airbnb, the travel-accommodations booking marketplace, developed, financed and produced documentary film “Gay Chorus Deep South,” set to premiere at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival on April 29. It’s the company’s very first feature film. Directed by David Charles Rodrigues, “Gay Chorus Deep [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content