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« Soundtracking: "Wall-E" | Main | Big Beautiful Losers »
Tuesday
Jun262018

What will Israel submit to the Oscars?

by Nathaniel

Flawless, which is called "The Prom" at home stars Stav Strashko (the one behind the wheel) who is a trans actress

The Ophir nominations were recently announced in Israel and we thought we'd share their Best Picture nominees. The winner of the Ophir -- which will be announced September 6th -- is almost always submitted for the Oscar's Foreign Language Film category. There are two LGBTQ films in the mix this year. Thanks to our loyal Israeli reader Yonatan for alerting us to the nominees. They're after the jump along with some stats about Israel's history with the Oscars and in US arthouse movie theaters...

 

  • The Cakemaker (9 nominations) This is about a German man who comes to a bakery in Jerusalem to meet the wife of his dead lover. It's written and directed by Ofir Raul Graizer and stars Zohar Shtrauss who you may have previously seen in the tank drama Lebanon or the gay Orthodox drama Eyes Wide Open.
  • Fig Tree (5 nominations) This one is in the Amharic language and takes place in Ethiopia. Written and directed by Alamork Davidian making her feature debut. It's a drama about a a teenage Jewish girl during the Ethiopian civil war and her Christian boyfriend. 
  • Flawless (12 nominations) The Ukranian trans woman Stav Strashko is up for the Best Actress prize (a first at the Ophirs) in this film about a high school prom -- it's actually called "The Prom" in Israel so I'm not sure why the new title. As far as I can tell it doesn't have an IMDb page yet but given the nomination count it might be the frontrunner for the prize. If it wins and is Oscar-submitted we have to then speculate about whether Oscar will go for two films in a row about trans women? But that would be a good problem to have, wouldn't it?
  • Laces (8 nominations) Directed by Jacob Goldwasser about an aging man with a special needs son
  • Noble Savage (10 nominations) This is from Marco Carmel and is about a teenage boy with an eating disorder.

 

Though the Jerusalem Post is reporting that Virgins (which screened at Tribeca) and Red Cow (which screened at Berlinale) are also up for Best Picture, I see no evidence of this at the Ophir site. I'm using Google Translate so there could be errors (Ophir information is weirdly hard to come by - even wikipedia doesn't list nominations, just winners). Those films do have a nomination here and there, though, including for their performances.

Shira Haas in "Broken Mirrors"

We should also note that Shira Haas, the bewitching young actress who made a well-liked festival debut with Princess (2014) and was terrific in a key supporting role in the Jessica Chastain film The Zookeeper's Daughter is up for Best Actress in a film called Broken Mirrors so we'll be keeping an eye out for that film at the fall festivals, too. 

Israeli cinema has had a great run in the past two decades, both with Oscar and with American audiences. So a bit of trivia for you to close out. 

ISRAEL'S OSCAR NOMINEES

Klaus Kinskiand Sybill Danning were part of the international cast of "Operation Thunderbolt" about the raid on Entebbe (a true story which has inspired several films now)

1964 Sallah
1971 The Policeman
1972 I Love You Rosa
1973 The House on Chelouche Street
1977 Operation Thunderbolt 
1984 Beyond the Walls 
2007 Beaufort
2008 Waltz With Bashir
2009 Ajami
2011 Footnote

They've yet to win the Oscar making them the Most Nominated Country To Have Never Won. They used to share that "honor" with Poland but Poland finally got a win with Ida a few years ago. 

It's interesting that in the 00s they repeated their 70s trick of three consecutive nominations. Their submission last year, Foxtrot, made the December finalist list but was not, in the end, nominated so they'll have to wait a little longer for nomination #11. 

THE BIGGEST ISRAELI HITS FROM 2000-2018 AT THE US BOX OFFICE
The year by the title represents the year they came out in the US though sometimes that's a year later than their awards year. We've included some names because the same (wonderful) actors and directors keep popping up.

The Band's Visit

 

  1. The Band's Visit (2008) $3 million
    This was not eligible for Oscar's foreign film category due to too much of the film being in English, the only common language between the Arabic and Hebrew speaking characters. The film starred the late great Ronit Elkabetz. It's beautifully judged musical adaptation (with a book by recent TFE guest Itamar Moses) just swept the Tony awards earlier this month. Wonderful film but then you probably already knew that!
  2. Walk on Water (2005) $2.7 million
    Directed by Eytan Fox and starring Lior Ashkenazi. Good movie.
  3. Waltz With Bashir (2008) $2.2 million
    This animated/doc/narrative hybrid film won the Golden Globe for foreign film and was also nominated for the Oscar. 
  4. Footnote (2012) $2 million
    Directed by Joseph Cedar and starring Lior Ashkenazi 
  5. Fill the Void (2013) $1.7 million
    Religious drama directed by Rama Burshstein 
  6. Late Marriage (2002) $1.6 million
    Starring Ronit Elkabetz and Lior Ashkenazi in an erotic drama about a divorcee and her bachelor boyfriend. My personal favorite Israeli film. Such a corker. It was Oscar submitted but Oscar foolishly passed it by. (Curiously the year before they passed on this film they passed on In the Mood for Love from Hong Kong so they must have something against instant-classic sensual romantic dramas.)  
  7. The Wedding Plan (2017) $1.4 million
    Religious romantic comedy directed by Rama Burshtein. You can watch it on Amazon Prime or Hulu. It's good.
  8. Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem (2015) $988k
    Courtroom drama/bio, written, directed and starring Ronit Elkabetz. Review and TFE's interview with Ronit & her brother Shlomi
  9. NEW🔺The Cakemaker (2018) $665 as of August 16th, 2018
  10. Ajami (2010) $622k
  11. Foxtrot (2018) $618k 
    Directed by Samuel Maoz and starring Lior Ashkenazi 
  12. Broken Wings (2004) $421k
  13. Lebanon (2010) $368k
    A tense war drama set entirely in a tank. Directed by Samuel Maoz 

    Proving that movies don't have to be long to be wonderful, Yossi & Jagger is just 65 minutes long.     
      and two notable runners up to this list...
    Yossi & Jagger
    (2003) $267k the popular queer military drama directed by Eytan Fox which got a sequel in 2013 though that one didn't do as well. Bethlehem (2014) $201k which was another Oscar submission but it didn't quite break out with Oscar or the public. 

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Reader Comments (10)

JUSTICE FOR PALESTINE
No one cares about this zionist country's films

June 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSTFU

Speak for yourself STFU.

Say what you want of politics, but the Israeli cinema is one of the best of the world and even subersive against the current political spectrum.

June 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterLeon

Oof, FOOTNOTE. I have only heard of THE CAKEMAKER from this year's batch as it played both queer and Jewish film festivals down here.

June 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

" The winner of the Ophir -- which will be announced September 6th -- is almost always submitted for the Oscar's Foreign Language Film category. "

In fact, the film that won the Ophir Award for Best Picture becomes (since 1991) automatically the representative of Israel at the Oscars. The exceptions had reasons and were:

Aviva My Love (2007) which tied with Sweet Mud as Best Picture. What forced the Israeli Academy to vote again between those two films to choose the representative of Israel at the Oscars.
The Band's Visit (2008) won the Ophir Award for Best Picture but was disqualified for containing too much English dialogue. The second place Beaufort was submitted in its place, resulting in a Oscar nomination (the first in 23 years)

June 27, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterHarmodio

Nathaniel: Thanks for this - great to hear about these new films and possible contenders. I'm also getting excited for your annual coverage of the Foreign Language race more generally - the best coverage in the business.

June 27, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

Israel doesn’t exist. It’s a made up country. Support BDS motherfuckers!

June 27, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterbeyaccount

A. Look, Support Palestine all you want (and you should) but maybe a country that exists.. does exist? Maybe it shouldn't, but it doesn't mean it's not there. Also, seeing as many people in Israel are trying to help Palestine and, unsuprisingly a lot of them come from the movie business, maybe talking about the movies is not the place the start.

B. The Ophir turned into a REAL shit show this year. So, Check it out:

First of all - Virgins and Red Cow are not nominated for best picture.
Second of all - Out of all these films nominated? only one has actually been released in theaters (The Cakemaker). Why? because the distributers look at the award ceremony not as a way to celebrate films but as a way to generate more money for films they think they can't sell otherwise. That's why most films come out only AFTER the Ophir ceremony.

This year, they wanted to change that law, only to fuck it up big time: the reason we have the nominations now is because now they have two months to screen the films several times across Israel in special screenings, all this just to not have them released before the ceremony. And the ceremony itself? only in september. WHAT. THE. FUCK.

C. "The Prom"/"Flawless" is by the same duo that made "The Farewell Party". Thought you'd like to know.

D. Ophir Data is so difficult to come by. Even in Hebrew. It's insane how little the Israeli Academy does to make anybody care about themselves.

July 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGeorgeT

Israelis are just motherfuckers. They are spreading terror in world.

July 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSkyscraper

Currently The Cakemaker is the most successfull israeli film in USA at 2018 and number 9, as it passed Ajmi and Foxtrot.
Its also the ONLY film distributed in USA.
It would be very stupid of the academy in Israel not to send it.

August 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKnowStuff

@KnowStuff "Doing Stupid Shit" is the Israelis Academy MO.

The Cakemaker is a disadvantage because it has been released already, and they prefer to give the film to something that has not yet been released. I expect Flawless to win, personally.

August 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGeorgeT

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