For Israeli film director Yariv Horowitz, the 2013 Aubagne International Film Festival in France will hold bittersweet memories. Horowitz was attacked by a group of Arab youths and beaten unconscious at the festival last week, shortly before his film “Rock the Casbah” was awarded the Special Prize for best picture.

The movie, which also won an award at the Berlin International Film Festival in February, follows four young IDF soldiers in the West Bank during the first intifada in 1989. In portraying the emotional conflicts experienced by the soldiers, the film attempts to show the Israeli perspective on serving in the midst of a civilian population.

'Rock the Casbah' (photo credit: Courtesy)

‘Rock the Casbah’ (photo credit: Courtesy)

Horowitz lost consciousness as a result of the beating and was administered medical treatment before returning to the festival, where shortly afterward he was given the award for his film.

“I grew up in a very left-wing family,” Horowitz said after the screening in Berlin. “I remember that when I would come home from the territories as a soldier, my mother would say that the soldiers were animals. And I said, ‘One day I’ll show you how it really was.”

Grig Davidovitz contributed to this report.