(Times of Israel) – Animator Yoni Goodman isn’t new to difficult subjects.
His latest is Disaster, an 80-second piece about teenage brothers Or and Yagil Yaakov, who were abducted from the safe room of their Kibbutz Nir Oz home, while their mother, Renana Gome, heard the entire terrifying incident on the phone.
The film opens with a view of the terrorists approaching Nir Oz, one of the kibbutzim hardest hit in the wave of Hamas massacres that took place on October 7.
The two boys, 12 and 16, were home sleeping when the massive early-morning onslaught began. Their parents are divorced, and their father was at his house on the kibbutz with his girlfriend.
Their mother, Renana Gome, was also not home that morning. She was on the phone with them as the rocket sirens began blaring and news of the terrorist infiltration began spreading around the kibbutz, and the boys entered the safe room of the house.
In just over a minute, Goodman shows the boys’ terror as Yagil, 12, is on the phone with his mother, while his brother, Or, 16, tries to hold the heavy safe room door shut against the terrorists who have entered their home.
Gome was still on the phone with Yagil when the terrorists wrenched the door open, and Yagil cried, “Don’t take me, I’m too young!”
It is Gome who narrates the short in English. She was evacuated to Eilat, along with all the other Kibbutz Nir Oz survivors, and recorded her portion in a local studio.
The two met through director Ari Folman, with whom Goodman created Waltz with Bashir and Where is Anne Frank? among other animated works.
Folman has been filming the testimonies of family members of Israelis being held captive by Hamas in Gaza.
“I didn’t think twice about doing it,” said Goodman, in an interview with the Ynet news outlet.
Goodman said he gets deeply involved in any project he works on, but usually can take breaks to eat, be with his kids, live his life. Not this time.
He and his team began working on Disaster on October 19, 12 days after Or and Yagil were abducted, and released the short on October 28.
“We all felt we wanted to use our skills for good,” Goodman told Ynet.
Gome had been in touch with Folman, with the idea of telling her sons’ story in a way that showed the emotion as well as the event.
“It’s her story,” said Goodman, adding that Gome shared with him all the small, pertinent details that make up the film. “She’s very strong. She will fight for her kids until they’re returned to her.”
It was important to Gome to narrate in English, knowing that would make it easier to share it widely, and perhaps exert pressure on countries that can possibly help in hostage negotiation.
Goodman said he didn’t want to include visual terror in the film, knowing how much people are currently exposed to the visual atrocities committed by Hamas, and wanting to create something that wouldn’t feel threatening.
“Art has a lot of power right now, and animation is a strong tool,” said Goodman in the Ynet interview. “It allows people to talk about fear and emotion, and it prevents an emotional lockdown.”
Hamas and affiliated terror groups breached the barrier between Gaza and Israel on October 7. Some 3000 terrorists poured in and rampaged murderously through IDF bases and over 20 communities, shooting, burning, raping and committing other atrocities. Some 1400 people in Israel were killed, mostly civilians, and at least 243 people were abducted to the Gaza Strip, including babies and octogenarians.
Israel swiftly declared war on Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, and has vowed to destroy its military capabilities and topple its regime.