Most mothers of 19-year-olds deal with the typical stuff: test anxiety, college woes and breakups. The usual worries. As the mother of an Israeli combat soldier, though, my list includes other things: hypothermia, guns, complaints of extreme boredom and the occasional outbreak of war.
It’s a funny double life my son lives. During his breaks from the army, he parties like the best of them. Raves, bars, beach excursions. The difference is that these adventures are usually stuffed into a frenzied weekend, where sleep is not calculated into the equation.
Such is the life of many Israelis between the ages of 18 and 21.
As a passive observer, along for the roller-coaster ride, it occurred to me that this dual existence and the changes I saw in my son would make for a very interesting documentary film. The experience of being forced into a position of responsibility, grappling with issues of life and death, is a potent catalyst for maturity. My son has “come of age” in many ways. While it is a gradual process, far from complete, it is happening whether he realizes it or not.
With this in mind, my fellow filmmakers and I decided to follow and film a group of Israeli paratroopers during the most formative period of their army service: the first eight months of training. This footage is the basis of our new documentary, “Beneath the Helmet: From High School to the Home Front,” which is due to premiere in fall 2014.
“Beneath the Helmet” goes behind the scenes and explores the lives of Israeli soldiers who just graduated high school. While their counterparts in the United States are starting college, Israeli teenagers are drafted into two to three years of military service to safeguard their homeland.
Check out a clip from “Beneath the Helmet” below: