Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story (Jonathan Gruber and Ari Daniel Pinchot, 2011): US
Reviewed by Natanya Maskart. Viewed at the Santa Barbara Film Festival.
The documentary Follow Me: Is one of the most popular documentaries in the Kolnoa category of the Santa Barbara Film Festival this year. The Kolnoa category is the collection on Jewish films about Jewish and Israeli experiences. The Yoni Netanyahu story was an amazing film about the heroic and inspiring acts of Yoni Netanyahu who was a commander in the Israeli army. This film begins with stories of his childhood and continues on into his adulthood until his horrific death in 1976. This film was narrated by his own poetry and personal stories he would write throughout his life. He was such a gifted writer who made every word flow together perfectly. If you are someone who enjoys good writing then i think you would be really pleased with this movie and hearing the beautiful words that are read in this film.
This film is truly inspirational and tells the amazing story of a true hero. As a kid Yoni was always very intelligent and had a love for Israel. Through his growth the film shows different images and videos of him participating in different activities and things he loved to do. He always said that he wanted to make something of his life and not waste the precious time life gives him, and that he did. He was a very smart student who was accepted into Harvard but took a leave of absents in order to go back to Israel and fight in the war. The country which he loved so much and felt at home in was continuously under attack and he wanted to be there to defend his people. After sometime he then returned again back to the army and went back serving as the commander of an elite part of the Israeli army known as a group called “The Unit”. It was with this group where he would be spending the last moments of his life with.
There was an Air France plain, which had been hijacked, and many hostages on board. At the age of 30 Yoni Netanyu was going to lead his unit into the airport of Uganda and try to free the hostages, and that is what he did. He was able to free 102 hostages but for those people his life was taken away. He died on this rescue mission but his story and strength continues to live on. He is a hero to so many and to hear this story I know his name is going to be one which is never forgotten. I thought this documentary was one of the best that I have seen and truly captured who he was as a person and the things in which he stood for and loved. I think this is a great film for people to see and is a perfect representation of who he was and his beliefs. It has his family and friends being interviewed about his life and who he was as a person.
As an audience i feel like you really get to know him as a person and understand what he believed in. I think that if you enjoyed this film then you would really enjoy the film Nickys Family which is also playing at the Santa Barbara Film Festival and tells the story of another herroic and inspirational man named Nicolas Winston an Englishman who organize a rescue to save 669 Czech and Slovak children before World War II starts up. This was such a powerful story and Nicolas shares so many different characteristics with Yoni Netanyahu consisting of being a hero,brave and inspiring. I think both of these films were great stories and Follow me had amazing poetry with great music and different visuals. It was so well done and truly a remarkable story that is a must see.