Guy Shalom woke up on the morning of Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, watching missiles from the window of his house. The 27-year-old Tel Aviv-born actor studies at Seminar HaKibbutzim drama school and starred in Lior Chefetz’s The Stronghold.
“I played a soldier guarding an Israeli outpost who suffers a surprise Egyptian attack during the Yom Kippur War,” he explains, speaking to THR Roma. “Who would have thought that 50 years later, Guy, the civilian, would feel just like my character, Yaron, the soldier? On Saturday morning I was awakened by sirens, and along with the sound came Hamas fighters.”
This time, the missiles over the heads of many actors who have played soldiers on Israeli films and TV series are real. And for some it is a return to a life they had away from the cameras.
Among them is Lior Raz, who plays Fauda‘s Officer Doron Kabilio and also produces the series. A former soldier in an elite Israeli special forces unit, Raz is now in the southern Israeli city of Sderot, which was hit by Hamas rockets. The actor, who will also star in Ridley Scott’s Gladiator 2, went with series co-creator Avi Issacharov and with Yohanan Plesner, head of the think tank Israeli Democracy Institute, to join the efforts of “Brothers in Arms,” the group against prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s judicial reform.
The Israeli leader has been heavily criticized for the surprise Hamas attacks, which killed more than 1,200 Israelis, according to reports. In response, Israeli attacks have killed reportedly more than 1,400 Palestinians, with thousands of soldiers now on the border of the Gaza Strip, where electricity, water and food supplies have been cut off.
“Together with Yohanan and Avi, I headed south to join hundreds of brave Brothers in Arms volunteers,” Raz wrote on his X (formerly known as Twitter) profile. Other performers from the series, including Tomer Capone, Yaakov Zada Daniel, Tzachi Halevi and Idan Amedi, also returned to duty.
It was almost a foregone conclusion for them, given that Fauda is about an anti-terrorist unit operating undercover in the West Bank. The series has proved dramatically prescient, especially with the finale of the third season, which involves the kidnapping of two Israeli boys who are taken to Gaza.
Fauda director Rotem Shamir said that when he started watching videos and news online it looked like a scene from the TV series and not reality.
The entire Israeli film and TV industry has mobilized in the wake of the Hamas attack. All cinemas are closed and film and TV series productions (including that of Fauda itself, whose surprise fifth season was announced last month) have been halted, as ordered by the Israel Defense Forces. Meanwhile, actors, directors, and entire film crews in the industry are lending help on the ground and engaging through social media to spread live news.
Shalom can think of nothing else but to find a way to help his country. “I have cried and I will surely cry for a long time,” he says. “However, our spirit will not break, I am moved by the unity of Israelis who help each other in any way they can, by donating blood, money and supplies.”
“The whole industry is shut down,” said Adar Shafran, an Israeli director and producer and president of the Israeli Television and Film Producers Association (IPAC). “We are still in shock. After this war nothing will be the same as before, for now we must just focus on survival.” In addition to cooking and organizing food donations, producers are using their skills and equipment to provide supplies to affected areas.
Shafran’s first feature film, Running On Sand, was to be released in Israel later this month with United King Films. “All the publicity was planned, yet now everything is cancelled and I have no idea what will happen,” he said.
Shafran is also a producer of Netflix’s first original Hebrew-language series, Bros. Tragically, on Saturday, the person who was to deliver the series to Netflix was killed during the Hamas attack.
Rotem Shamir, the director of Fauda (Hostages and No Man’s Land) has let it be known that the productions he has been working on have stopped. Elsewhere, Israeli director Yahav Winner was reported missing on Saturday and was found dead three days later. “He didn’t run away. He tried to save us. That was my husband,” Winner’s wife, filmmaker Shaylee Atary, said in an emotional tribute after his body was found in the south Israel kibbutz Kfar Aza on Wednesday.
The conflict continues to impact the release of film and TV projects. Fremantle released a statement announcing that it will not bring the Australian series C*A*U*G*H*T, produced and starring Sean Penn, to Cannes for the international TV market MIPCOM. The series is about soldiers in a war-torn country who are taken hostage and become celebrities with online videos. Menemsha Films and FireGlory Pictures have also decided to postpone the release of Kiss Me Kosher because of the conflict.
The Haifa International Film Festival, which was scheduled to continue until Saturday, has been interrupted. Israeli participants accredited to the MIA Rome and BFI London Film Festival are absent, and will miss upcoming events, including Mipcom (Oct. 16-19). The El Gouna Film Festival in Egypt has been rescheduled from Oct. 13-20 to Oct. 27-Nov. 2.