(JNS) The two young men who entered the restaurant in Tel Aviv in business suits were polite until they started shooting.
A family would not normally have gone out to eat that night in Ramadan, but they were celebrating a birthday. A father insisted on taking his daughter out to dinner.
When the shooting started, a bearded Jewish man had a choice. He could grab a chair and risk his life as a hero, or run away and save himself. Footage of the attack shown in the film “Closed Circuit” shows people running and chairs inside and outside Sarona market being turned over in the chaos.
The documentary will be screened at the SVA Theater in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood as part of the DOC NYC Film Festival on November 13 and will be available online thereafter.
On June 8, 2016, the Palestinian terrorists, both 21 years old and from Yatta near Hebron, killed Michael Feige, Ilana Naveh, Ido Ben Ari and Mila Mishayev and wounded seven others. They were later found to be acting on their own, but we learn in the film that they were influenced by inflammatory videos.
Directed by Tal Inbar, 21, of Ramat Gan, Closed Circuit is a harrowing and unnerving documentary that makes you wonder what you would do if you knew you could die during dinner.
Inbar told JNS that a year after the attack she went to get a book by Edgar Keret and when a shop didn’t have it, she went to a bookshop in Sarona market, noticed all the video cameras and experienced deja vu. She said she originally considered making a scripted film, but concluded that with all the footage available, it didn’t make sense.
“I could never do a re-enactment as cinematic as this one,” Inbar said over the phone from Madrid. “It’s kind of funny because it’s low-tech, low-quality footage, but it’s very cinematic in a way. It feels like it’s unfiltered. I’ve researched and found many incredible stories. I realized that making a documentary was much more impactful.”
One of the terrorists is shot and arrested, the other is missing. When an Israeli sees the outfit the terrorist is wearing on the ground, he realizes he made a terrible mistake and his family may be in danger. He runs home as fast as he can, hoping he doesn’t have to live the rest of his life in regret.
Inbar shows maturity by resisting the general urge to fluff a film so it can hit the 90 minute mark. Every second of the 54-minute documentary is gripping. We see the fear of a worker at Max Brenner, people are hiding in a back room. Someone wants to come in and the worker wants to help when it’s an innocent diner but you wonder if it’s a ruse and maybe a terrorist will enter.
The documentary explores several psychological aspects related to memory repression as a defense mechanism and two Arabs, a father and a restaurant worker, feel they have been treated unfairly and are suspects by the police because they are Arabs.
We hear from a former soldier that the shots sounded like firecrackers, but what he heard was the echo of makeshift weapons.
Inbar said the people she interviewed opened up to her.
“A lot of people who experience trauma are willing to share it if you’re a good listener and make them feel safe,” she said.
While some terrorists have disguised themselves as Hasidic Jews, Inbar said she was not aware of another attack in which terrorists were dressed in business suits.
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Israeli security officials did not allow Inbar to interview the arrested terrorists. What would she have asked if she had had the chance?
“I’d like to know who they are and what influenced them, and try to feel them. I think it’s important to me as a storyteller,” she said.
Inbar said she was on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv on May 6, 2022 when three people were killed in a terrorist attack there. And, Inbar said, her film’s editor called her and told her that she was in a situation not dissimilar to that shown in the documentary.
Part of the movie’s power is in the details. We hear from a man who remembers having a pancake in his hand during the attack and wanted to continue eating, and another who explains that there are such tensions in Israel that people carry trauma in their veins . Inbar said she hopes for a cure.
“I hope for tolerance and understanding, and I want everyone to have more compassion for one another.”
The November 13 screening will include a Q&A session with Inbal and co-producer Nancy Spielberg.
To read more content, visit www.jns.org