Oscar conundrum for Israel
Ten Israeli films have been nominated for Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, most recently Joseph Cedar’s Footnote in 2012 and Beaufort in 2008, and Ari Wolman’s Waltz with Bashir in 2009 and Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani’s Ajami in 2010.
All of those films showed sides of Israel that were gritty and real, and some were perceived as being highly critical of Israeli policies. However, the makers of the films had no problem representing their country at the gala ceremony in Hollywood.
On Sunday night, two Israeli films are nominated in the Best Documentary category – Dror Moreh’s The Gatekeepers, focusing on extensive interviews with former heads of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and 5 Broken Cameras, a look at the ongoing clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian and Israeli protesters at Bil’in, a village in the West Bank being encroached by the Israeli security barrier.
Neither have been embraced by the Israeli political establishment, to say the least. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that he was not planning on watching the films, resulting in Moreh retorting to an Israeli TV station that if the prime minister doesn’t want to watch a documentary that deals the Palestinian-Israeli conflict through the eyes of six people who he worked with, “it says more about him than about the film.”
If either film walks away with the Oscar Sunday night, it will be interesting to see what happens. Will Netanyahu or President Shimon Peres call the directors to congratulate them and invite them to an official ceremony, as happens when an Israeli athlete does well abroad? Or will an award that Israel has been waiting to win for decades go unmentioned and overlooked in official circles. It will be one the of the minor dramas that Israelis will be focusing on when the red carpet is unrolled.