Oscar History

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Foreign Film Oscar Watch: The Ophir Nominations

Israeli's Oscar equivalent, The Ophirs, announced their nominations yesterday and here are the Best Picture nominees, courtesy of friend of TFE Yonatan. One of these six films will surely be submitted as their Oscar hopeful.

Dana Ivgy & Nelly Tagar star in "Zero Motivation"

The Farewell Party - Dramedy set in a retirement home and it's the nomination leader with 14
Gett: The Trial of Viviane Absalem - Drama about a woman struggling legally to get a divorce. This is the film we were talking about a couple of days ago when the foreign charts went up. It's co-directed by and stars the great Ronit Elkabetz (Late Marriage). It won 12 nominations. Music Box films (who had such a huge success with Poland's Oscar submission Ida this summer) have the distribution rights but no US release date has been announced.
Is That You? - A film projectionist searches for the love of his youth after losing his job
Next To Her - 9 nods for this  drama about two sisters, one of them is mentally challenged
Yona - Biographical Drama about a famous Israeli poet. 9 nominations. The director Nir Bergman is the only one from this group who has previously been selected for Oscar submission (Broken Wings in 2002)
Zero Motivation - This debut feature from director Tayla Lavie was the winner of the Tribeca Film Festival this year and is nominated for 12 Ophirs. Zeitgeist has distribution rights in the US and is planning a December release. It's a military comedy about female soldiers starring Dana Igvy who is nominated for Best Actress AND Supporting Actress as she's also in Next to Her. Someone's having a good year

Dana Ivgy & from "Next to Her" at Cannes. Photograph by Cécile BurbanWhich do you think they'll choose for their Oscar submission? Have any of you Israeli and/or international festival-going readers caught any of these films? Israel's last two submissions Fill the Void and Bethlehem missed nominations and even the January finalist list (kind of a surprise with the former) but the Academy's mostly been very receptive to Israeli film in recent years with nominations in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2011 so watch their submission closely!

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Reader Comments (9)

Nat, Can you (or someone) quickly explain the requirement for a foreign language film? Exactly how much of the dialogue has to be in a language other than English and if someone made a film in Creole, or a Native American dialect, etc., but here in the States, would that qualify? What about funding, oes that have to be non-US based as well? And is there any restriction on other categories (I don't think so, but......). Thanks

I've liked the few Israeli films I've seen although they tend to star Ayelet Zurer (love her) or have gay themes but I'm interested to see the Dana Ivgy films after all that notice from her home crowd. Do you think she could be a sleeper spoiler in the Actress races?

August 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

I just hope Zero Motivation made it to their Oscar submission. I totally buy its concept.

August 12, 2014 | Unregistered Commentertombeet

Henry - i believe the threshold is 50% non-English. American films, even if they are in a foreign language, are not eligible. Funding isn't the be all and end all... most of the decisions about what qualifies come down to how much that film represents that country i.e. is the director from there? or the actors at least? or so on. etcetera...

August 12, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Doesn't the winner of the Best Picture prize automatically become the submission? I thought that was the case with the Ophir Awards (I know there are a few countries that do that).

I'm very excited to see Ida tonight (I have avoided almost every spoiler-I don't even have a clue what it's about), sort of kicking off this race for me (one of my favorite not necessarily from the quality of the films but because it's one of the few Oscar races that is genuinely difficult to predict both for winners and nominees each year).

August 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

Thanks Nat, but then how did The Wedding Banquet, which was entirely set in NYC qualify? I realize there was a cross culture thing going on, but........ (not arguing with you, just curious).

August 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

the concept of zero motivation is very real, me and my friends from the army have been joking that they made a movie about us... (sorry about my English)

August 12, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterh

Henry - it's okay if it's set in the U.S. it just can't be FROM the U.S. The Wedding Banquet was a Taiwanese submission because it concerned Taiwanese immigrants and Ang Lee is from Taiwan.

h - there's nothing wrong with the english - that is totally understandable. I love that feeling on the rare occasion is happens when a movie is made about you.

John T - i can't remember but the point is we don't know which one is going to win yet so it could be any of them.

August 12, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

John T - It is usually the case, but in 2007 the winner (The Band's Visit) was disqualified for technical reasons [ 50% percent english ] and the second place got sent instead.

I have to say that this system, while prestigious for the film takes some of the fun of the awards. Instead of choosing the film they like best, they usually go with "the film that will best represent us at the Oscars", creating events like "Big Bad Wolves" having 11 nominations without a Best Picture one because it's a dark comedic thriller with a lot of violence and might "upset" oscar voters. [ Although, Betlehem was the better film and S#x Acts way MUCH better than both. anyway)

August 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGeorgeT

Forgot to mention something about the winner going straight to the oscars - This might also spoil Zero Motivation's choices and get Gett the win. (Farewell Party will have to get raves at festivals to win - again, the Israeli academy looking for an oscar and such). Is That You? is part of the fringe competition meaning it has no chance and Yona and Next to Her are less likely, but stranger things have happened.

But the most annoying thing about the Ophirs? the fact that for most israelis, they mean jack squat because except for Zero Motivation, none of these films has been released yet. and this is not some anamoly - year after year, Israeli audiences shrug at the Ophirs because we can't possibly know if the films nominated are any good. So yeah, Zero Motivation is great and is a worthy winner but it's hard to root for it not knowing if the other films are any good.

It becomes even more absurd then you realise that altough a tad late, they DO release all the oscar movies before the Oscar ceremony.[Well, except Philomena last year]

August 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGeorgeT

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