PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — After nearly a half-century of censorship, the Israeli soldiers of 1967's Six-Day War are finally being heard in full in the illuminating documentary "Censored Voices."
Director Mor Loushy was given unprecedented access to over 200 hours of tape-recorded interviews with soldiers that were conducted by author Amos Oz and editor Avraham Shapira in the days after the victory for a book. At the time, the army allowed only a portion of the interviews to be used.
The prevailing textbook narrative for students in Israel had painted the soldiers as triumphant heroes. When Loushy came across "The Seventh Day," she noticed a different tone than the one she'd learned in school and got to work trying to persuade Shapira to give her fuller access to the censored tapes.
"It took some time. I chased him, I called him, he wouldn't return my calls," said Loushy, who eventually secured a meeting with him after attending a lecture he was giving.
"He was scared to give it to me. I don't know. He saw something. At the end of the first meeting he told me, 'OK, this is yours. I believe in you,'" she said.
Loushy spent eight months listening to the voices on the tapes before going out in search for the men involved, which proved incredibly difficult because the recordings were anonymous. When she did track them down, she was overwhelmed by their willingness to participate in her documentary.
"Nobody refused. They were all very intrigued to hear what they said, what they sounded like," said Loushy. "It was a very emotional experience to hear their voices for the very first time. Everyone opened the door so kindly."
The tapes present a population of soldiers who are deeply disturbed and conflicted about their wartime acts. In the film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, the men are shown in present day, listening to their own accounts of their feelings following the war.
"This is not a narrative that has been heard in Israel," said producer Hilla Medalia.
"It is not an anti-Israel film in any way. It is an anti-war film," said producer Daniel Sivan. "Losing the war is terrible. It's the most terrible thing that can happen, but winning one isn't so great either. ... This movie is about winning the war and its consequences."
"To hear their criticisms ... to hear voices that are so sincere? That's what kept me so alive in this project," said Loushy.
"If we want to go to a peaceful solution, if we want to move to a different future, we must look at the past. To hear the voices of those soldiers only a week after the war? I think there are no winners. It was such a victorious war for Israel, but you see that no one won in this war. We all lost," she added.
Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr