The Temple Emanu-El Kirk Cashmere Jewish Film Festival opens at the Doris Duke Theatre March 5, and in the lineup is a film on which Gilad Janklowicz was an executive producer. Yes, that Gilad, the fitness guru of the 32-year-old TV fitness series Bodies in Motion—which films here in Hawai‘i. In 2007, he was inducted into the National Fitness Hall of Fame.
When he’s not sculpting America’s abs, Janklowicz has made intermittent inroads in film. He has had bit parts in Ruthless People, In Country, and North. Now he makes his debut as an executive producer (and takes on the role of a famed statesman) on the hard-hitting Sabena Hijacking – My Version.
The film recounts the events of the 1972 hijacking of Belgian Sabena Flight 571 from Brussels to Tel Aviv from the perspectives of the Israeli political leaders who were in charge of the recue as well as Therese Halsa—the only surviving hijacker.
Sabena Hijacking – My Version screens March 12, 15, and 17. Janklowicz will be at all screenings to introduce the film and offer a Q+A. As a preview, we asked him some questions to give you an inside look at the film.
For those unfamiliar with the events, can you tell us about the events depicted in Sabena Hijacking?
Sabena was a Belgian airliner that was hijacked en route to Israel by four Palestinians—two men and two women—in 1972. The plane landed in Israel and there negotiations began with the terrorists who demanded release of 300 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails.
The story is told from the perspective of the pilot who was caught between the two forces, the Palestinians who threatened to blow up the plane and the Israeli’s who were planning to storm it.
Many people know you as a fitness personality, how did you come to be involved with the film?
I met the producer in Israel in mid-2014 and I loved it from the moment he showed me the project. It is a historic event that involved some of the best-known politicians and military personnel in Israel. It was also a chance for me to be involved in the making of a film, which has been a dream of mine.
I was also requested to read for the part of Shimon Peres. I did the audition in Hawai‘i at Wayne Ward’s studio and sent it to Israel, and I got the part! Although it is a small part in the film, I’m humbled and honored to be able to portray Shimon Peres, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and the most prominent politician in Israel’s history.
The film interviews the only surviving hijacker from the event. Was it difficult getting her to agree to the interview?
It took some doing as at first she wasn’t sure if it was perhaps a “Mossad plot” [Mossad is the Israeli Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations] to get to her, but eventually they understood that this would give her a chance to tell her side of the story. The interview took place in Amman, Jordan, where she lives today.
Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, and Benjamin Netanyahu all had some role to play in the event, and all went on to become Israeli prime ministers. Do you think that the events of that day shaped their future, or is it purely coincidence?
Yes, it’s very amazing that all three were there at the scene at the time. Coincidence? Faith? Hard to tell. All three men played very important roles in the government over the years in addition to becoming prime ministers—Barak, of course, was also chief of staff of the military and is the most decorated soldier in Israel’s history.
Tickets and show times for Sabena Hijacking – My Version.
Hi Gilad, I don’t know if you remember speaking with me on the phone. It was a pleasure . Hope all is well with you. I have to keep in touch. Sincerely, Agnes G. JACKVONY
The Sabena Hijacking film sounds fascinating. We’re looking forward to the return of the Jewish Film Festival. Mahalo!