Sundance Review: Tantura

As the saying goes, history is always written by the victors. Especially when it involves war or fighting, where the emphasis is placed on the heroic triumph and little is mentioned about exactly how it was achieved or what happened in the aftermath. War crimes happen more often than you’d think, but they are almost universally swept under the carpet. Nations and societies would rather move on and draw a line, without sparing a thought for the victims.

The establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 didn’t exactly go to the UN plan. It sparked conflict, known by Israelis as the War of Independence and Palestinians as ‘Nakba’ (the Catastrophe). It led to the depopulation of hundreds of Arab villages. In the 1990s, graduate student Teddy Katz conducted interviews on a massacre that had allegedly taken place in the village of Tantura. His work was later discredited. Tantura revisits the scene of the crime.

Tantura uses Katz’s audio recording from twenty years ago and revisits them with both former Israeli soldiers from the Alexandroni Brigade and Palestinians who witnessed the massacre. Piecing together stories of that day, from a number of perspectives. It’s clear from Alon Schwarz’s documentary that a systematic cover-up has taken place. Through a combination of coercion, nationalism and guilt. Tantura sets the record straight and highlights one of many outrages of the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Tantura screens at Sundance Film Festival.

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