"It wasn’t their country, but they made it their war." That is the theme of Above and Beyond, The Untold True Story, a documentary film about a group of Jewish American pilots who flew for Israel in its 1948 war of independence.
The film, produced by Nancy Spielberg and directed by Roberta Grossman, is "the first major feature-length documentary about the foreign airmen in the '48 war." It combines interviews and gripping aerial footage "to present a fascinating, little-known tale filled with heart, heroism and high-flying chutzpah," say the filmmakers on the documentary’s website.
The documentary traces the pilots' "circuitous route from the United States—where they met and trained in secret and struggled to stay two steps ahead of the FBI—to Panama, Italy and Czechoslovakia, where they flew versions of the very Nazi planes they had tried to shoot down in World War II." It examines the motivations of Israel’s foreign volunteers, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, through their personal stories.
The documentary, recipient of several best-documentary awards at major film festivals, was filmed in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Israel.
Spielberg is a businesswoman, fundraiser, and philanthropist who grew up "surrounded by the film industry, where she worked on her brother Steven’s early films." She has founded or co-founded charities including A Bid for Charity, Children of Chernobyl, Project Sunshine, and the American branch of The Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, according to her biography on the documentary’s website.
Grossman has written and produced more than 40 hours of documentary film and television. Her previous film, Blessed Is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh, was "shortlisted for an Academy Award, won the audience award at 13 film festivals, was broadcast on PBS and nominated for a Primetime Emmy," the website says.
Upcoming screenings through April 30 are scheduled in numerous U.S. and Canadian cities, as listed here.