In a historic achievement for Israeli cinema, director Samuel Maoz’s film Lebanon won the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival on Saturday, September 12. It’s the first time an Israeli film has won the prestigious prize.

“I dedicate this award to the thousands of people all over the world who, like me, come back from war safe and sound… Apparently they are fine … but inside, the memory will remain stabbed in their soul,” the director told the audience at the closing ceremony.

Based on a true story, Lebanon recounts the experiences of Israeli soldiers in June 1982, during the first day of the first Lebanon War. It takes place almost entirely inside a tank, from the perspective of the young soldiers who find themselves alone in war and facing a genuine existential threat.

Co-produced by Uri Sabag and Einat Bikel, the film is said to raise tough moral questions. It stars actors Michael Moshonov, Itay Tirah, Yoav Donat, Oshri Cohen, Zohar Strauss and Dudu Tasa, all of whom have been commended for their performances.