ELITE ZEXER’S ‘Sand Storm’ took home six Ophir Awards on Thursday night.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev may have stolen the show last Thursday night at the annual Ophir Awards ceremony in Ashdod when she described the Israeli film industry as a closed club for an elite few and then walked out during a performance by Palestinian rapper and actor Tamer Nafar that included an excerpt of a poem by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish.
But there were actually some awards given out as well. As reported in the Post Sunday, Sand Storm, Elite Zexer’s debut feature film about Beduin women, won the Ophir Award for Best Picture and will be Israel’s official choice for consideration for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.
The movie, which is the first Ophir Award winner to be entirely in Arabic (The Band’s Visit and Ajami had significant portions of dialogue in Arabic, but were partly in Hebrew), also won five other awards, including Best Director for Zexer and Best Supporting Actress for Ruba Blal-Asfor, who plays a woman coping with her husband’s second marriage and her daughter’s rebellion.
Sand Storm is the first feature by Zexer, a young female director, and deals with the Beduin, a community rarely depicted on film.
Rama Burshtein, an ultra-Orthodox woman, won the Best Screenplay Award for Through the Wall, a comedy about marriage in the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) world.
Moris Cohen got the Best Actor award for his performance as a club bouncer drawn into a life of crime in Meni Yaesh’s Avinu, a movie about just the kind of working-class Mizrahim that Regev seemed to be saying are excluded from the film industry.
The two other acting award winners, Noa Kooler for Through the Wall and Tomer Kapon for Asaph Polonsky’s One Week and a Day, were first-time Ophir Award nominees.
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The Best Documentary award went to Ido Haar’s Presenting Princess Shaw, about an Israeli musician, Kutiman, who showcases the work of a lonely African- American singer/songwriter in New Orleans, transforming her life.
The shortlist for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, which will feature nine out of the 80-plus films submitted for consideration from countries all over the world, will be released on January 17.
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