The two young men who entered the restaurant in Tel Aviv wearing business suits were polite, until they started shooting.

One family would not have normally gone out to eat on that evening during Ramadan, but they were celebrating a birthday. A father insisted on taking his daughter out to dinner.

When the shooting began, one bearded Jewish man had a choice. He could pick up a chair and risk his life as a hero or run and save himself. Footage from the attack shown in the film “Closed Circuit” shows people running, and chairs inside and outside the Sarona Market being flipped over in the chaos.

The documentary will be screened on Nov. 13 at the SVA Theatre in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood as part of the DOC NYC film festival and will be available online after that date.

On June 8, 2016, the Palestinian terrorists, both age 21 and from Yatta, near Hebron, murdered Michael Feige, Ilana Naveh, Ido Ben Ari and Mila Mishayev, and wounded seven others. It was later determined they acted on their own, but we learn in the film that they were influenced by inciting videos.

Tal Inbar, director of “Closed Circuit.” Credit: Courtesy Tal Inbar.

Directed by Tal Inbar, 21, from Ramat Gan, “Closed Circuit” is a harrowing and nerve-wracking documentary that makes you wonder what you would do if you realized you might die during dinner.

Inbar told JNS that a year after the attack, she went to get a book by Edgar Keret and when a store didn’t have it, she went to a bookstore in the Sarona Market, noticed all the video cameras and experienced déjà vu. She said she initially thought to do a scripted film but concluded that with all the footage available, that didn’t make sense.

“I could never do a re-enactment that would be as cinematic as this,” Inbar said by phone from Madrid. “It’s kind of funny because it’s low-techy, low-quality footage but it’s very cinematic in a way. It feels like it’s unfiltered. I did research and I found out a lot of incredible stories. I realized it was way more powerful to do a documentary.”

One of the terrorists is shot and taken into custody but the other is missing. One Israeli, upon seeing the outfit the terrorist on the ground is wearing, realizes he has made a terrible mistake and his family may be at risk. He runs home as fast as he can and hopes he won’t have to live the rest of his life full of regret.

Inbar shows maturity by resisting a common urge to fill a film with fluff so that it can hit the 90-minute mark. Every second in the 54-minute documentary is gripping. We see the fear of a worker at Max Brenner, people are hiding in a back room. Someone wants to come in and the worker wants to help if it is an innocent diner, but one wonders if it is a trick and a terrorist may be about to enter.

The documentary examines several psychological aspects in terms of the repression of memories as a defense mechanism, and two Arabs, one father and one restaurant worker, feel they are not treated fairly and that police view them as suspects because they are Arabs.

We hear from a former soldier that the shots sounded like firecrackers, but what he heard was the echo from makeshift guns.

Inbar said people she interviewed opened up to her.

“A lot of people that experience trauma, if you’re a good listener and make them feel safe, they are willing to share,” she said.

While some terrorists have dressed up as Chassidic Jews, Inbar said she was not aware of another attack in which terrorists dressed in business suits.

Israeli security officials did not allow Inbar to interview the jailed terrorists. What would she have asked if she had the chance?

“I would love to know who they are and what affected them and try to feel them out. I think it’s important for me as a storyteller,” she said.

Inbar said she was on Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street on May 6, 2022, when three people were murdered in a terrorist attack there. And, Inbar said, her film’s editor called her and told her she had been in a situation not dissimilar from the one shown in the documentary.

Part of the film’s power is in the details. We hear from a man who remembers he had a pancake in his hand throughout the attack and wanted to continue eating, and another who explains how there is such tension in Israel that people carry trauma in their veins. Inbar said she hopes for healing.

“I hope for tolerance and understanding, and I want everyone to have more compassion for each other.”

The Nov. 13 screening will include a Q&A session with Inbal and co-producer Nancy Spielberg.


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