Available to rent from Leeds Film Player from 29th March - 30th April for £3

Yotam and his mother move to a new town after the death of his father, a test pilot for the military. When Yotam finds an abandoned plane he decides to restore it with the help of Noa, a girl from school and Morris, a grumpy ex-pilot who eventually comes to see the two kids like his grandchildren. With the annual airshow only weeks away, can they restore the plane and make Morris proud?

An exciting action drama with some amazing aerial action scenes as well as a fascinating insight into the history of the fighter plane.

Suitable for 8+ due to scenes of peril.
Content warning: Bereavement / Death



 Film Poster for Sky Raiders


Interview with Director Lior Chefetz with Gert Herman for ECFA

Anyone who gets a kick out of airplanes and aerobatics will certainly get their money’s worth in Lior Chefetz’ debut film. But SKY RAIDERS is not just about the roaring of engines. It is also the story of a boy learning to cope with his father’s death, an old man who sees the past revived, and a beautiful bond between a boy and a girl. When Yotam and his classmate Noa find a rare antique plane, they try to bring it back to life. This means they have to team up with Morris, an 80 year old grumpy loner.

Films have been made about children dreaming of getting their own dog, their own bicycle or their own horse… but dreaming about their own airplane?!

Lior Chefetz: The idea came from an old children’s book that my mother gave me for my 6th birthday. ADVENTURE IN THE SQUADRON by Oded Marom tells about two boys restoring an old fighter plane with the help of their old pediatrician. As a child I loved that book, but I forgot all about it. 25 years later, coming home from film school for a summer vacation, I found it in my old library.

The film opens with an air battle and ends with a spectacular air show.

Chefetz: I love airplanes, especially Warbirds. Those World War II classic fighters are beautiful machines with a lot of history and human drama connected to them. SKY RAIDERS opens with a dogfight between British Spitfires and German Messerschmitts over the English Channel, part of the famous Battle of Britain. In the end of the film again there is a Spitfire and a Messerschmitt, this time in a contemporary setting.

How did you capture those scenes?

Chefetz: The actors were filmed inside a fake cockpit, in front of a green screen. The cockpit was static – we didn’t have the resources to put it on a moving platform – with a moving light imitating the sun. The shadows moving across the actors’ face create an illusion of the plane turning and rolling. For the exterior shots, in which you see the planes flying in the air, we had to create two elements: the backgrounds, which were filmed with the use of a drone, and the planes, which are mostly 3D models. Working with the actors was the least complicated part of the production. Amir Tessler and Hila Nathanzon were 13 and 15 and I didn’t notice any difference from working with adult actors, except maybe a sugar rush after eating chocolate...

Some of your locations are tickling my imagination: a warehouse full of planes, an airplane cemetery...

Chefetz: I was hoping to film in a huge airplane cemetery like those in Arizona. But in Israel those places are in restricted military bases. However we found a small municipal airfield that had a few old planes scattered around. At first the managers didn’t want us there: a film crew with kids and an active airfield is not a good mix. But when he heard that we were doing a movie based on that children’s book, he couldn’t believe his ears – it had always been his favourite! From that point on we could do whatever we liked - shoot around the old planes, inside hangars, borrow an old engine and even film a crazy chase on the runway. We also had a couple of days in the Israeli Air Force Museum to film the two historic planes: the Black Spitfire and the only relic of an Israeli Messerschmitt. Then we scouted tons of hangars, until we found a very old oranges storehouse. It is rusty, has lots of echo and pigeons living in the rafters. We ended up using a lot of the pigeons’ sound in the sound design.

This is also the story of a mother and son dealing with a great loss.

Chefetz: Writing about a child who lost his father is a classic cliché. However it’s a strong tool to create emotional connection and motivate our hero, so I decided to keep it but make the character as specific as possible. If we gave the hero an emotional truth to motivate his actions, it could work. Yotam rather doesn’t talk about his father, or only in a nonchalant way, as if it’s not a big deal. The truth is that he hasn’t completely processed the loss, and buries it under layers of emotional protection.

In the film I feel a great respect for what people create, craft or repair with their hands. As Morris says: “There’s something special about old machines.”

Chefetz: I like antiques and hand-crafted things. But the idea that an old machine has a spirit came from the Japanese term “Kami” which are the spirits or “holy powers” that are venerated in the Shinto religion. I feel that old planes have some spirit in them as well, as each part was hand-crafted, and the cockpit is soaked with the sweat of the many pilots that sat inside and took this machine into many daring adventures.

I suppose there are female pilots in the national air force?

Chefetz: For many years women could not serve as pilots in the Israel Air Force, and opening the course to women was not an easy change. The military opposed at first and only after a supreme court ruling 20 years ago, the course opened for women. Since then a handful of women managed to complete the course. Few other combat roles are still closed to women and currently debates are being held in the courts regarding this issue. I support the right of any person to choose what they would like to do, regardless of their gender, so it was important for me to make a point about it and show how Noa can be as good of a pilot as anyone else.

Have you made a film with a gigantic ecological footprint?

Chefetz: That is a very important point. The struggle for our environment is crucial, and I support the young generation who fight to save the planet. I’m proud that we managed to make a movie about planes without a single airplane flying especially for our production. Every plane that takes off on the screen is a computer-generated 3D image. On a broader thought, one may ask if air shows are necessary in our time, as the planes burn so much fuel. Maintaining old planes in flying condition, preserving the technical knowledge of their operation, has its own cultural value. It is important to discuss how to protect the cultural heritage of aviation, while protecting our environment.