LOS ANGELES ““ The June 1967 Six-Day War was a brilliant military victory, a turning point in Israel’s history and, indeed, for the entire Middle East. Similar glory by Americans on the battlefield no doubt would have led to the production of a half-dozen films with John Wayne single-handedly wiping out the Arab armies.
The spectacular July 4, 1976, rescue mission to Entebbe Airport in Uganda inspired three films, one Israeli and two American. Yet neither the Israeli film industry nor anyone else has ever made a feature on the 1967 war. Now two U.S. attorneys are coming forward to remedy the omission.
Their film, tentatively titled “Jerusalem ’67,” is based on the authoritative book, “The Battle for Jerusalem, June 5-7,” by veteran Jerusalem Post reporter Abraham “Boomie” Rabinovich, who left the United States to cover the war.
The New York lawyers driving the project are Joseph Schick, an ardent history buff, and Jacob Septimus, who has produced and directed a number of TV shows and documentaries for national networks.
Schick started the ball rolling a year-and-a-half ago after devouring Rabinovich’s eyewitness account anchored in interviews with 300 participants. He then enlisted Septimus, a fellow Columbia Law School graduate.
Together they flew to Israel, arrived at a deal to buy the film rights to the book, and visited some of the main sites of the 1967 war.
After interviewing a number of scriptwriters, they chose the English and Hebrew bilingual Lior Geller, 32, a former Day School graduate from Edison, and a graduate of the Tel Aviv University film school. For his graduate project, Geller wrote and directed “Roads,” set in a drug-infested Arab neighborhood of Lod. The short student film won 24 international awards, including an Oscar nomination. Geller most recently completed the script for “Alone in Damascus,” a film about the Israeli spy Eli Cohen.
Recently, Septimus, Geller, and Schick talked about the “Jerusalem ’67″ movie.
Schick said that in a sense, the city of Jerusalem will be the protagonist, with the capital’s mood chronicled from one month before the outbreak of fighting through the war’s aftermath until the end of the year.
Although such leading historical figures as Israeli generals Moshe Dayan and Yitzchak Rabin, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, and Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek will be portrayed, the emphasis will be on the action and attitudes of ordinary soldiers and citizens, Septimus said.
“Our characters will be based on real people, including an attractive female ambulance driver,” added Geller, who recently also finished the script for a thriller, “Run from the Devil,” to be produced by the Oasis Media Group.
“Jerusalem ’67,” which will be in English and shot entirely in Israel, will feature an international cast, although no cast members have been selected. No director has been hired as yet, either. The anticipated budget is approximately $5 million – a hefty sum in Israel, although modest by Hollywood standards.
Schick and Septimus expect to raise one-third of the money from private individuals and Jewish organizations in the United States, one-third from Israeli sources, and one-third from production companies.
If all goes well, “Jerusalem ’67″ will be released in 2013, or possibly 2014.
“We will not make a hasbara, or propaganda, film,” Schick emphasized, “but it will be told from an Israeli perspective.”
JTA Wire Service