33 Yom (33 Days) is a Lebanese film based in the Southern town of Ayta Al Shaab which is roughly 1KM from the occupied Palestine border. The film, which is said to be funded by Iran, shows a fictional story from the Battle of Ayta AlShaab in the July 2006 War leaving hundreds of soldiers dead and many wounded.
The film commences with a battle- a fuzzy view of resistance fighters and Israeli soldiers in combat at what looks like the Lebanese and now-Israeli border grabbing the audience from the very beginning, inviting them to the reality of what the 2006 war was about from a resistance fighter’s point of view.
As the film officially initiates, it shows the civilian lifestyle of these fighters: taking the audience into their homes and humanizing those who are often perceived as terrorists. It begins with a wedding, a time of happiness, with people dancing and having a joyous party- only for it to be wrecked by a walkie-talkie call to Mohammed, who appears from the very start to be one of the main operators of the defense battles throughout the movie. Through that walkie-talkie, the news of an attack on Lebanon by Israel is clear and war quickly starts. Having lived through the 33 day war in South Lebanon, the echoes of denial that attacks would last long from nearly all the main characters were all too similar to those of conversations in my home in 2006. Many did not believe Israel would have the audacity to try to annihilate and reoccupy South Lebanon once again, even despite having seen their capabilities in the occupation. This shows how surprising, even to those who had suffered for so many years at the hands of Israel, the war was and how quickly it claimed the lives of thousands of Lebanese civilians.
Without giving to much of it away I want to say how much this movie, although fictional, really sits next to reality. The characters may be made up but throughout the history of Israeli invasions, similar things have happened and are capable of happening again. The women of resistance fighters, for the past 30 years, have had to deal with their husbands disappearing for large amounts of time to protect their country from Israeli attack, many of whom probably never made it back home. Many families have a martyr in their family, not necessarily a resistance fighter who was martyred but children, parents, grandparents, cousins etc. just as I do in my family.
33 Yom also played fair when it depicted it’s Hebrew-speaking Israeli soldiers, particularly one woman soldier who stood up to a top Israeli commander, whom she adored, telling him he had no right to do what he was doing to the Lebanese people. This to me, was unique as it showed the side of Israeli soldiers that choose to rebel against their government’s disgusting war policies.
The film was not a propagandist one at all and really focused on Ayta AlShaab and the resistance fighters. It does not even mention Hezbollah once, however many reviews often link the two together as it was Hezbollah’s war and pictures of Chief Sayyed Nasrallah painted the set. But it really showed how the 2006 was a war of man vs machine- where on one side Lebanese fighters had an emotional motive for fighting, having been tortured by Israelis previously and on the other, Israeli soldiers scattered around unknowing of the situation boastfully carrying their enormous weaponry that in real life played no match to Hezbollah’s strategies.
Many critics argued that the movie was too simple, but one needs to consider that it was based only in one of the hundreds of affected villages and it was still very intense. The battle of Ayta was only one battle, one area, one small village in South Lebanon that was pulverized into rubble. But the passion from the villagers, the civilians…this existed throughout all of south Lebanon. Many stayed and refused to leave their homes, giving the enemy any benefit whatsoever. I remember watching an elderly man on the news holding a half eaten packet of biscuits saying “I have nothing left to eat but these biscuits, but I will never leave my home even when I run out”.
All in all, as someone who viewed this war “live” I VERY much enjoyed it and thought it was executed well. I advise anyone who comes across it to watch and share.