We had the opportunity to chat with the documentary filmmakers of In Our Hands: The Battle for Jerusalem, premiering in DC, June 7th at Washington Hebrew Congregation. From the creators of The Hope and Made in Israel comes the new film commemorating the battle for Jerusalem that happened 50 years ago. They discuss their artistic process, connection to the Six-Day War and the ups and downs of filmmaking.
You tell the story of the war through firsthand interviews. What was your process for finding people to interview?
The 17-day shoot in Israel last summer was carried out after intensive research through diaries, radio broadcasts, conducting interviews with experts (such as Member of Knesset and historian Michael Oren) and, of course, with the veterans themselves.
“It was a long process to find these really gripping stories,” said Erin Zimmerman, writer, and director of In Our Hands. “My Israeli production team helped me immensely throughout the arduous process,” Zimmerman stated. Every line of dialogue comes from these records and interviews.
Not all documentaries include historical reenactments. What went into your decision to include them in your film?
“It is important to have the story told by those who lived it. In Our Hands reveals the hearts and minds of soldiers, scholars, and politicians, both religious and secular. Seeing their vivid memories portrayed in historical reenactments brings the Six-Day War to life in a new and unique way,” said Gordon Robertson, In Our Hands executive producer and CEO of The Christian Broadcasting Network.
Shot in Jerusalem on the actual battle sites, more than 100 actors (the film’s extras are real paratroopers) re-enact the deadly fighting at Ammunition Hill and the Old City. Other scenes are replicated at the Rockefeller Museum and the Mount of Olives.
“Most accounts of the Six-Day War are straight documentaries, and the Battle of Ammunition Hill is a sentence or two,” Robertson, said. “No film we know of actually recreates these pivotal scenes and events with such intense accuracy. For new generations of Jews and Christians, In Our Hands is a must-see in understanding the significance of this historic moment in history.
Has this film screened in Israel yet? If so, what kind of feedback has it received?
In Our Hands: The Battle for Jerusalem will debut in Israel on June 4 in Jerusalem. Filmmaker Gordon Robertson, and writer and director Erin Zimmerman, will host the event, honoring the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War and the veterans whose courage brought about the reunification of Jerusalem and, as one veteran put it, “the returning to the nation its heart.”
Do you have a personal connection to Six-Day War?
For Gordon Robertson, the Six-Day War was much more than a historical event. “I vividly remember my father sitting all of us down and explaining to us the biblical significance of what had just occurred,” Robertson said.
“We had a lot of discussions about politics and world affairs around the dining room table, but this one didn’t occur around the dining-room table. This was one where Dad got us all out and we opened the Bible and looked at the verses that were just fulfilled. He underlined it for us. He made sure we understood the significance,” Robertson said, speaking of his father, CBN founder Pat Robertson.