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Israel and the Oscars

‘The Gatekeepers’ and ’5 Broken Cameras’ vie for the Academy Award

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The Academy Awards are on Sunday, and in addition to spawning Rachel Shukert’s stunning Best Picture medley, they’ve also sparked an interesting discussion about two films nominated in the Best Documentary category: 5 Broken Cameras and The Gatekeepers.

Over at Jewcy, columnist Jacob Silverman examines what the nomination of the two documentaries, both critical of Israeli policy, means for both the Academy and the Israeli film industry:

Now, both 5 Broken Cameras and The Gatekeepers are nominees for the Academy Award for Best Documentary, to be awarded this Sunday in Los Angeles. That two of the five films nominated in this category are highly critical of Israeli security policies—and the politicians who oversee them—reflects a stark change in Hollywood’s treatment of Israeli cinema. From 1964 through 2006, only six Israeli films were nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, and none won (a film must be first submitted; being a nominee in this category is the equivalent of being a finalist). During this time, Israel had a single documentary nominated for an Academy Award—The 81st Blow, a 1974 film about the oppression of Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe.

That began to change in 2007, with the Foreign Language Film nomination of Beaufort, a tale of brotherhood and valor in the last days of Israel’s occupation of southern Lebanon. Beaufort was followed by Waltz with Bashir, a dark look at the trauma of IDF veterans who served in Lebanon and their complicity in the Sabra and Shatila massacre. (Due to the Academy’s picayune rules, Waltz with Bashir, while ostensibly an animated documentary, was submitted under the category of Best Foreign Language Film.) In 2009, Ajami, a grim story about forbidden love and clan violence in Jaffa, was also a nominee. Co-directed by a Christian Palestinian and a Jewish Israeli, the film represented a further victory for Israel’s progressive film industry.

Read the rest here.

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The phenomenon described, in which progressively themed films originating in Israel are finding greater traction with Academy voters, is a wholesale refutation of what has become the Walt/Mearsheimer thesis. The very industry with which Jews are most closely identified, which is routinely accused of disseminating media products designed to burnish the images of Jews and Israel in order to perpetuate a state of vassalage between the U.S. and the Likud party, is doing just the opposite. The ‘Empire of Our Own’ is endorsing an unflattering, critical portrait of Israel. Not that this is unusual, of course, but it’s a stark reminder of how libelous anti-Zionists are, and how little grounded in facts.

Reptilian2012 says:

Being anti-Israel guarantees free publicity.. This has been going on for about 60 years now, nothing new.

mitchell_james_kaplan says:

Jewish self-criticism, blending (in varying ratios) honesty and the desire to appease anti-semites, has been going on for millenia.

herbcaen says:

they are not Israeli films, they are Palestinian films

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Israel and the Oscars

‘The Gatekeepers’ and ’5 Broken Cameras’ vie for the Academy Award

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