Joseph Cedar’s Footnote, the country’s official entry for Academy Award consideration, received an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Tuesday in Los Angeles.
Cedar said he was surprised to have made the list.
“With all the expectations, pessimism is a way to survive,” he told The Jerusalem Post. “So I become really pessimistic. And when it turns out it wasn’t justified, it’s such a relief.”
But when pointed out to the pessimistic director that he has been nominated for Oscars twice in five years, he remained philosophical.
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“There’s a lot of luck involved, and finding that luck twice is wonderful.”
This is the 10th nomination for an Israeli film in this category, though none has ever won a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.
It’s also the second nomination for Cedar, whose film Beaufort was nominated in 2008. Waltz with Bashir by Ari Folman and Ajami by Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani received Oscar nominees in 2009 and 2010.
The other nominated films are: Belgium’s Bullhead, Michael R. Roskam, director; Canada’s Monsieur Lazhar, Philippe Falardeau, director; Iran’s A Separation; and Poland’s In Darkness, Agnieszka Holland, director. This will be the first year an Israeli film has been nominated in the same category with an Iranian film.
The Best Foreign Language Film category has a set of special rules. Every country may submit one film for consideration. In Israel and many other countries, that film is the one that has won the Best Picture Award in its nation’s local film awards, in Israel, the Ophir Awards, given in September.
This year, 63 countries submitted films for consideration. Nine films were chosen for the Foreign Film shortlist, which was announced last week.
Footnote, which stars Shlomo Bar-Aba and Lior Ashkenazi, is about the rivalry between a father and son who are Talmud scholars in Jerusalem. In addition to the Ophir Award for Best Picture it won the Best Screenplay Award at the Cannes Film Festival last spring.
In addition to Footnote and Beaufort, Cedar made two films that focused on Orthodox Jews in the West Bank and Jerusalem, Time of Favor (Hahesder) in 2000 and Campfire in 2004.
The Oscars will be awarded February 26.