Oscar-nominated Israeli film 'Aya' fails to win Academy Award

Oscar for best live action short film goes to British movie "The Phone Call."

February 23, 2015 08:20
1 minute read.
FRENCH-ISRAELI actress Sarah Adler stars in the Oscar-nominated short film ‘Aya’

FRENCH-ISRAELI actress Sarah Adler stars in the Oscar-nominated short film ‘Aya’. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Oscar-nominated Israeli film "Aya" failed to win the award for best live action short film on Monday at the 87th Academy Award ceremony in Los Angeles.

The award instead went to the British film "The Phone Call."

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The five films nominated for best live action short film this year were: "Aya," "Boogaloo and Graham," "Butter Lamp," "Parvaneh," and "The Phone Call."

The idea for “Aya” began with a daydream: What if you were waiting for someone at the airport and instead you picked up a total stranger? What then?

That wisp of a fantasy, dreamed up by Mihal Brezis many years ago while waiting with a friend at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport, carried her and her partner, Oded Binnun, to the Oscar nomination for best short film.

The title character (played by Sarah Adler) is a young woman waiting for someone at Ben Gurion Airport when a driver asks her to hold his sign for a moment welcoming a Mr. Overby to a music competition. When Overby (Ulrich Thomsen), a Danish music researcher and juror for the competition, shows up, Aya decides on an impulse to drive him to his hotel in Jerusalem.

During the course of the car ride, which forms the majority of the film, the ordinary boundaries between strangers break down, and an unexpected intimacy develops between the spontaneous Aya and the reserved Overby.

Unlike other recent Israeli Oscar nominees, there is nothing obviously Israeli about “Aya.” By contrast, the feature films “Beaufort” and “Waltz With Bashir” were set amid Israel’s wars with its neighbors; the social drama “Ajami” took a panoramic look at Israeli society, particularly the fractures between Jewish Israelis and Arabs; and the father-son drama “Footnotes” was about a complicated relationship between father and son, both of whom teach in the Talmud department at Hebrew University.

But “Aya” explores neither the political, ethnic nor religious aspects of Israeli life. Even the dialogue itself is almost entirely in English.

Thanks to the Oscar nomination, the 39-minute-long movie is now playing with the other short film nominees as part in more than 450 theaters across the United States.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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