Tel-Aviv born writer/director Samuel Maoz has achieved remarkable success with his autobiographical debut feature Lebanon. Winning the Golden Lion at the 2009 Venice Film Festival, and overwhelming admiration and praise from critics worldwide, Samuel Maoz has much to celebrate. And yet the mood in the tiny Soho House ante room on the day we meet is contemplative, sober. One has the impression that the trappings of success; the plaudits, the junkets, the toasts, mean little to this man who carried a terrible story for 25 years before he spilled its sprawling guts on script and screen. It is a means to an end and the end is simply this: that people bear witness to his cinematic confession.
In person Samuel, Shmulik, was a slight and softly spoken man – were you not introduced you would hardly notice him at all. Without raising his voice he commanded the room as he described his role in a war of which the world still knows far too little. I found it impossible to break eye contact as he described, as if it had taken place that very day, the unfathomable wartime experience of four young men in the belly of a tank. As he introduced us to Lebanon: