In 1973, Leonard Cohen traveled to the Sinai desert, performing a series of concerts for Israeli soldiers on the frontlines of the Yom Kippur War. His visit to the war-torn region is set to become a limited TV drama, titled Who By Fire: Leonard Cohen in the Sinai.
An adaptation of Matti Friedman’s book of the same name, the series will depict the musician during that period. A description of the project, reported by Variety, reads, “Moving around the front with a guitar and a pick-up team of local musicians, Cohen dived headlong into a global crisis and met hundreds of fighting men and women at the worst moment of their lives. Cohen’s audience knew his songs might be the last thing they heard, and those who survived never forgot the experience. The war tour was an electric cultural moment, one that still echoes today, – but a moment that only few knew about, until now.”
The finer details of the series are not yet known, however, production is scheduled to begin in 2024. The project will see writing credits from Yehonatan Indursky, one of the co-creators of the popular Israeli TV drama, Shtisel, as well as executive production from Sixty-Six Media’s Jill Offman, who brought the project to the production company, Keshet International.
“As a life-long Leonard Cohen fan, I loved Matti Friedman’s brilliant book from the moment I read it,” Offman said of the project. “With Yehonatan at the helm and with my partners at Keshet, I am very much looking to bringing this his extraordinary story to the screen. I set up Sixty-Six Media looking for undiscovered international stories with universal resonance and it’s an honour to have this as our first project.”
Cohen’s travels and experiences during the time of these concerts resulted in his 1974 album, New Skin for the Old Ceremony. The song “Who By Fire,” from which Friedman’s book and, in turn, the upcoming series gets its name, appears on the record.
Listen to the haunting song, below.
Photo: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics