Nova massacre survivor raises awareness at Cannes Film Festival
Laura Blajman-Kadar wears a yellow dress highlighting the plight of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza and a black scarf calling for their release at the Cannes Film Festival. Photo courtesy of Laura Blajman-Kadar.

“My main job since then is to talk about my friends who are still hostage in Gaza,” says Oct. 7 survivor Laura Blajman-Kadar.

By Amelie Botbol
May 20, 2024

“It was very important for me that the faces of my friends Eliya Cohen and Elkana Bohbot be on the front of the dress. I did it for them,” Oct. 7 survivor Laura Blajman-Kadar told JNS.

Pictures of Blajman-Kadar at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival in the south of France wearing a yellow dress emblazoned with the faces of hostages held by Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip went viral last week. She also wore a black scarf bearing the words “Bring Them Home.”

“It was very intimidating to go to a festival and not know whether security would let me in. I don’t usually do that,” she said. “We have friends in Gaza right now who were working and dancing with us three hours before they were kidnapped by Hamas. We went home, but they didn’t,” she explained.

Blajman-Kadar, a dual French-Israeli citizen born in France, moved to Israel when she was 8 years old. Together with her husband, Shai, she worked for the production team of the Unity festival, which took place at the site of the Supernova Music Festival a day before.

“Since it was a holiday, there were many festivals planned for that weekend. The teams of the Unity and Supernova festivals decided to do it in the same place,” she recalled.

“Our festival started on Thursday evening, went into Friday and then in the afternoon, we turned the music off, changed the colors of the decorations and Nova started. We came with a van. We thought it would be a nice weekend,” she added.

At 8 a.m. on Oct. 7, Blajman-Kadar, Shai and five friends hid in the couple’s van, where they spent the next six hours listening to Hamas terrorists torture and ultimately massacre 364 people.

“Very quickly, we heard terrorists arrive and yell ‘Allah Akbar,’ and lots of gunshots. For the first hour and a half, we were in shock, looking at each other, shaking,” Blajman-Kadar told JNS. 

“After a while, it became quieter because most people had already been killed. Then, they started finding people in hiding or wounded and executing them one by one. One scream, one gunshot, we could literally hear their body fall to the ground,” she said.

At first, the terrorists thought that Blajman-Kadar’s van was abandoned.

People visit the site of the Supernova music festival massacre near Kibbutz Re’im, Nov. 30, 2023. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.

“A terrorist came and tried to open the door a few times. We had locked it but it was a plastic lock. Then, he kept walking and we weren’t sure why,” she recalled. 

“We heard him scream ‘ta’al’ [come] in Arabic. We understood that they had found someone else who was still alive. We heard a few screams, gunshots, and a body fall to the ground. That person saved us,” she added. 

The terrorists fired on the van before leaving, narrowly missing Shai. But they would be back.

“At 12:30 p.m., my husband, who speaks Arabic, heard a terrorist come very close to our window and tell the others that we were still alive inside,” Blajman-Kadar said.

“At one point, we heard them pour a liquid onto the van. It took us a few seconds to understand that they were trying to burn us alive,” she added. 

Despite their attempts, the van would not catch fire. Some 40 minutes later, the Israel Defense Forces arrived at the scene and after a long battle, they were saved.

Nova festival
View of a burnt ambulance near the site of the Nova festival massacre in southern Israel, Oct. 12, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.

“When the door finally opened, we saw everything we had been hearing, all the things we had imagined while in hiding, we now could see,” said Blajman-Kadar. 

“I can only say that when it took weeks to identify the corpses of my friends, we weren’t surprised, because we saw what they did to them there,” she continued. 

Since then, Blajman-Kadar has been traveling across Europe with Shai to tell their story. In March, her book Believing in Life (Croire en la vie) was published. 

“My main job since then is to talk about my friends who are still hostage in Gaza. I started doing advocacy, giving interviews and testimonies in French and English, to explain to the world what happened on Oct. 7,” she told JNS. 

Cannes Film Festival
Designer Lisa Korn adjusts Laura Blajman-Kadar’s dress. Photo courtesy of Laura Blajman-Kadar.

“It’s been months that I am in Europe, and I can say that people don’t know enough about the hostages, people are forgetting them. Since Oct. 7, the world has looked at Israel, asking for a ceasefire because they don’t even understand why we are still fighting. That’s insane but that seems to be the reality,” she added. 

Blajman-Kadar was approached by Collectif du 7 Octobre’ a French organization advocating on behalf of the hostages, with the idea of going to Cannes.

“Within 72 hours, we started working on the dress, getting tickets to the festival. I was very lucky to get help from people who believed in our cause,” she said. 

“I am very proud that we managed to do this. I was so scared that it wouldn’t work. I was amazed to wake up the next morning and see so many newspapers covering it. I got messages from families of hostages who saw the dress and were very thankful,” she added.

Leave a Reply