Samuel Maoz's ‘Foxtrot.’ (Courtesy).
(photo credit: SAMUEL MAOZ)
The Israeli film Foxtrot
won the Silver Lion Grand Jury Prize at the Venice International Film Festival on Saturday.
The film, directed by Shmulik Maoz, has won international acclaim and has been slammed by Culture Minister Miri Regev.
The Golden Lion went to The Shape of Water
, an American romantic fairy tale directed by Guillermo del Toro.Foxtrot
explores themes of loss and grief, as it follows the tale of bereaved parents who are informed that their IDF soldier son – serving at a checkpoint in the middle of nowhere – has been killed.
“Thank you for a wonderful moment that will remain forever in my heart,” Maoz said on stage while accepting the award on Saturday evening. “I would like to dedicate this award to Mr. Katriel Schory, who stands like this lion and protects the freedom of speech and expression and the purity of art.”
Regev didn’t let up on Saturday night, calling the win “further proof that the state must not fund films that can be used as weapons of propaganda in the hands of our enemies.”
Over the past two weeks Regev has repeatedly criticized the film, and lamented that it received funding from the Israel Film Fund, headed by Schory.
“It is a disgrace that the film Foxtrot
by Shmulik Maoz has been chosen to be screened at prestigious film festivals like Toronto and Venice,” Regev said last month. “It is inconceivable that movies which shame the reputation of the IDF are those that are supported by the Israel Film Fund, which is supported by the state. And those are the films that are selected to showcase Israeli cinema abroad.”
At the time Maoz defended the film and Schory, who he said is “straightforward and intelligent and modest and transparent, while [Regev] has nothing to hold on to except her mantra on rotation.”
Variety called Foxtrot
an “award-winning filmmaking on a fearless level,” while The Guardian said it was a “fierce, urgent, unflinching picture.”
Maoz’s past film, 2009’s Lebanon, won the top prize, the Golden Lion, at the festival that year.Foxtrot
is nominated for 13 Ophir Awards, including Best Picture. The Best Picture winner almost always goes on to become Israel’s submission to the Academy Awards.
Palestinian actor Kamel El Basha, in Venice on Saturday, won the Volpi Cup best actor award for his role in the Lebanese film The Insult
. Basha joked that the trophy he was awarded was bigger than he expected, and “I don’t know how I’m going to carry it to Palestine now.”
In the early awards at the festival, which were announced on Friday, Israeli Savi Gabizon won the Venice Day’s People’s Choice Award for Longing
, about a man who discovers he is a father when it is devastatingly too late. Longing
has also been nominated for 13 Ophir Awards, including Best Picture, but Jerusalem Post
film critic Hannah Brown called the film “a mediocre, conventional drama.”