It’s July 2006, and the Jerusalem International Film Festival is in full swing. Somewhere in the crowd is Annette Lévy-Willard, self-professed “ace reporter” for the French newspaper Libération. Here on a working holiday, she books into the Hotel Mount Zion with her family in tow. But soon, the rockets are falling and “the vital battle for who will win Best Film” is replaced by another, altogether more real, more lethal one.
Lévy-Willard’s first-hand account of the 33-day war between Israel and Hezbollah is hampered by her decision to make use of a painfully inappropriate diary format. The result is an imbalanced travelogue that, despite her best efforts, comes across as fish-eyed and microscopic. “I only write what I see,” she asserts.
For Lévy-Willard, the “world’s war correspondents” represent “TV’s finest”; they are “heroes and heroines of the airwaves” by very virtue of their presence. But she fails in her attempt to convey “some sense of the suffering” in Lebanon as well as in Israel. As she follows the developing crisis exclusively from one side, the realities of war remain foggy.
Most distasteful of all is how the conflict is reduced to a journalist’s excuse for exciting copy. A “missile screeches” overhead; her first thought is how “it gives me total credibility”.