The nominations for the Ophir Awards, the prizes of the Israel Academy of Film
and Television, aka the Israeli Oscars, were announced on Tuesday in Tel Aviv,
and the political thriller Bethlehem, directed by Yuval Adler and Ali Waked, led
the pack with 12 nominations.
The film tells the story of an Israeli
intelligence officer who befriends a Palestinian informant, and was also
nominated for directing, actor (Shadi Mar’i), screenplay, supporting actor
(Zachi Halevy), cinematography, editing, casting, art design, makeup, music and
The other four Best Picture nominees are Reshef Levi’s
about three elderly men planning a bank robbery; Joseph
, about a Palestinian opening a candy factory; Guy Nattiv
and Erez Tadmor’s Magic Men
, the story of a father and son who go on a mystical
journey to Greece; and Johnathan Gurfinkel’s Six Times
, about alienated teens in
the Tel Aviv area.
While I haven’t seen all of the nominees yet, I can
say that that, as is its tradition, the Academy has seen fit to snub the work of
Avi Nesher, whose latest film, The Wonders
, was the best Israeli movie I’ve seen
It received nominations only for Yuval Scharf’s performance
and for best makeup.
It was not nominated in either of the best music
categories (soundtrack and music), even though it features a score by Hadag
Nahash, one of Israel’s best bands, and classical musician Avner
While there’s no accounting for taste, the fact that once again,
one of Israel’s most respected directors did not receive a directing nod – and
has never received a Best Director nomination for any of his films from the
Israel Academy – shows just how much like the Oscars the Ophirs have become, in
their refusal to honor the best in Israeli cinema.
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The best director
nominees, in addition to the Bethlehem directors, are Candies
’ Pitchhadze, Six
Gurfinkel, Tom Shoval for Youth
, and Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado
for Big Bad Wolves.
The Best Actor nominees are Bethlehem
’s Shadi Mar’i;
s Makram Khoury; Hunting Elephants
’ Sasson Gabay; Big Bad Wolves
Zachi Grad; and A Place in Heaven
’s Alon Aboutoul.
The Best Actress
nominees are Reymond Amsalem for Kidon and Plasticine; Tali Sharon for She’s
; Rotem Zussman for A Place in Heaven;
Sivan Levy for Six Times;
Yuval Scharf for The Wonders.
Two Oscar nominees are among those
nominated for Best Documentary, Dror Moreh’s The Gatekeepers
and Guy Davidi and
Emad Burnat’s 5 Broken Cameras.
Through some quirk of the nominating
process, they were not eligible for Ophir Awards last year, although they
competed in the 2012 Jerusalem Film Festival. The other nominees are Ron Tal’s
Garden of Eden
, about a national park; Yoav Halevy’s Bureau 06, about the
Eichmann trial; Yehonatan Indursky’s Ponevezh Time, about a famous yeshiva; and
Riki Shellach’s Ladies First, about a group of very strong women.
comedy group Ha Gashash Hahiver, will get a Lifetime Achievement
While once the Ophirs were of little significance outside of the
local filmmaking community, they have taken on more significance in recent
years, as the Israeli film industry has improved. The winner of the Ophir Award
for Best Picture is Israel’s official selection for a nominee for Best Foreign
Language Film. In the past six years, four Israeli films have received one of
the five coveted nominations in this category: Joseph Cedar’s Beaufort
Footnote, Ari Folman’s Waltz with Bashir
, and Yaron Shani and Scandar Copti’s
. Although none of them won, receiving so many nominations has been a big
boost for the Israeli film industry.
The winners will be announced at a
ceremony in September.
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