This film uses documentary footage, vintage news reels and the tape recordings from various Kibbutzim (Jewish communal settlements) in the month after “The Six-Day War”. This war in 1967 saw Israeli troops occupying Sinaii, Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank – essentially forming the nation of Israel as it is known today. These recordings are from soldiers, having recently returned from war to document their true experiences on the frontline. For decades, the majority of these testimonials were censored as they went against the carefully constructed image of the new, victorious Israel.
When discussing Israel and the state it is in today, people are often quick to choose a side of the debate. It is easy to take a moral stance, but it is the people who are often forgotten. The individuals who sacrificed their lives on both sides for causes that are so similar, yet so vehemently opposed, are just people at the end of the day. The sacrifice lasts far beyond those who gave their lives: in the soldiers who’ve lived on, questioning their faith, their patriotism and all they have been taught. Never mind those who were displaced by the war and whose descendants still suffer the consequences.
The film is titled Censored Voices, which hints at how these stories have been bound by silence for so long. In a land like Israel, it has been vitally important to create masculine heroes out of its past wars, justifying their actions for the sake of national morale. The use of original footage corresponding with the voice-over makes for a chilling combination in this documentary. A bass-heavy soundtrack goes some way to emphasising the devastating effect of shelling and gunfire on these young men – drafted into a war they were no longer certain they believed in – as well as civilians uprooted from their lives.
As a nation surrounded on all sides by potential enemies, the portrayal of the ultra-masculine soldier, rather than the weak, studious Jew, has been important in ensuring they are not taken advantage of. However, behind that image lie real men who struggle with the aftermath of their role in conflict. These voices that have been actively silenced in favour of the propaganda machine tell stories that show true humanity, and at times even admissions of fault and guilt. As the ex-soldiers – now old men – listen on in silence to their younger selves, many have tears in their eyes and nod their agreement still, all these years later.
Censored Voices is released nationwide on 16th October 2015.
Watch the trailer for Censored Voices here: