Interview'I think it’s the hardest film I ever made'

Documentary on October 7 Supernova festival massacre makes US debut

Days after the Hamas onslaught, filmmaker Duki Dror headed to the devastated rave site near Re’im. It is now his mission to show the world ‘Supernova: The Music Festival Massacre’

Reporter at The Times of Israel

The site of the Supernova music festival near the border with the Gaza Strip in southern Israel is seen on October 12, 2023. At least 360 Israeli festival-goers were killed during the assault by Hamas terrorists on October 7. (Ohad Zwigenberg/ AP)
The site of the Supernova music festival near the border with the Gaza Strip in southern Israel is seen on October 12, 2023. At least 360 Israeli festival-goers were killed during the assault by Hamas terrorists on October 7. (Ohad Zwigenberg/ AP)

Just three days after the October 7 Hamas terror onslaught on Israel, longtime Israeli filmmaker Duki Dror visited the location of an infamous massacre from that Saturday morning — the site of the Supernova music festival.

Dror is a veteran documentarian, and his films have tended toward geopolitical subjects in recent years. Now he took on a more visceral subject. Four months after that first visit to the Supernova site, he brought the finished film to the United States: “Supernova: The Music Festival Massacre.”

“It was really tough,” Dror told The Times of Israel. “I think it’s the hardest film I ever made. I did a few in my career. This one was really tough, really hard emotionally.”

Just under an hour in length, “Supernova” conveys the terror of the massacre at the rave, which came as thousands of Hamas-led terrorists launched a widespread onslaught into southern Israel, butchering 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and abducting 253 more, while committing horrific acts of brutality including rape, torture, dismemberment and mutilation. The rampage at the festival left 360 dead, with over 40 taken hostage.

Featuring the trance and techno music that characterized the open-air festival, “Supernova” screened on February 21 at the Judy Levis Krug Boca Raton Jewish Film Festival with Dror in attendance, and had another screening on the same day in Washington, DC, attended by co-director Yossi Bloch. Now it’s moving on to Philadelphia and New York.

“There’s been a lot of attention on the film in Europe,” Dror said. “Here, we just started US distribution. So far, the few screenings we’ve had have been extremely powerful. People are really extremely moved by the film.”

“I felt it was my duty to tell their story, show the world this happened, bring it out,” Dror said, “to show the truth, especially when there are so many voices of denial.”

An aerial picture from October 10, 2023, shows the abandoned site of the October 7, 2023 assault by Hamas terrorists on the Supernova music festival near Kibbutz Re’im in the Negev desert, southern Israel. Some 360 people were slaughtered at the outdoor event. (Jack Guez/AFP)

The film tells the story by focusing on six festival-goers who survived, all of whom are in their teens and 20s — plus a pair of older adults: a father whose son and daughter were both abducted that day and eventually released; and a policeman credited with rescuing 150 people.

One of the festival-goers was Michal Ohana, a 27-year-old veterinarian. She said that she hid from terrorists under a tank, with friends abducted and female friends tortured.

“I said to myself, ‘I am staying alive, I am not going to die here.’ I was saying Shema Yisrael,” Ohana recalls in the film, referring to the foundational Hebrew “Shema” prayer in Judaism, which is also said in times of danger.

Survivor Michal Ohana testifies in ‘Supernova: The Music Festival Massacre,’ by Israeli filmmaker Duki Dror. (Screenshot/ Courtesy)

Best friends Gali Amar and Amit Amar, both students, hid from the carnage in a portable restroom.

“The space smelled bad,” Amit says on camera. “I couldn’t move. They fired at head level. We hid on the floor, praying as hard as we could that they would not open the stall.”

As the film narrates the tragedy that unfolded during the annual festival in southern Israel, it does so by incorporating footage from multiple sources, including TikTok, private videos of those profiled and Hamas videos found on GoPros used by the terrorists. One of the latter shows terrorists firing into a car.

An anguished cell phone conversation is replayed between father Ilan Regev and his daughter Maya Regev, who was at the festival with her brother Itay Regev. “Dad, they shot me!” Maya says. Ilan decides to drive south to try to rescue his kids. The siblings were abducted by the terrorists and released in late November as part of the hostage deal.

Another Israeli who headed for the festival site upon learning of the attack was Sgt. Maj. Hananya Benjamin of Ofakim.

“There were abandoned cars — many to the right, many to the left, engulfed in flames,” he says in the film. “The way was blocked.” Once he arrived on the scene, he said, “I saw a massacre. I was in a massacre zone.”

The reunion of siblings Maya and Itay Regev, released from Gaza days apart, at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, November 30, 2023, in handout photos by the hospital. (Courtesy)

Ilan Regev and Benjamin were not in the film initially. Dror had nearly finished the rough cut when he added their perspectives.

“[Benjamin’s] perspective on this is a 360-degree look at the story from the perspective of the victims,” Dror said. “And we used a lot of material we got from the interviewees that they shot themselves through this event.”

Filmmaker Duki Dror. (Courtesy)

At various points in the film, those on camera raise questions about issues relating to the planning of the festival and the response of authorities once the onslaught started at 6:30 a.m., following a barrage of rockets that some mistook for fireworks or special effects.

It is noted that the festival took place mere kilometers from the Gaza Strip and that only one road connected the site to a main highway. During the attack, a festival-goer who called the military reportedly got hung up on, with a curt response: “Go figure it out, you’re in a war zone.”

The film’s protagonists show the impact the day has had on their lives. Ilan Regev puts up “Bring Them Home Now” posters of his son and daughter. Almost two months later, he gets his wish when Maya is released, and then Itay several days later.

For Ohana, when she hears an incoming rocket siren and goes to a shelter, she fears that a terrorist will kidnap her while she’s inside.

“We were put through a battlefield, basically,” Gali Amar reflects upon being rescued. “They asked us not to look.” She and Amit Amar add, “You can’t look away.”

“I was crying a lot,” Dror said of making the film. “You face so much evil, so much negativity that was thrown on these really innocent young people who were only looking for… peace, love, music and freedom. It’s heartbreaking. My kids are the same age. I still feel this is my mission, to bring it out to the world.”

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