Iranian critics name films by Israeli, Jewish directors as top 2019 movies

Forty-two Iranian film critics participated in the poll conducted by Cine Eye, an online film magazine edited by Iranian critic Parviz Jahed.

Photo is of Nadav Lapid's Synonyms (photo credit: GUY FERRANDIS/SBS FILMS)
Photo is of Nadav Lapid's Synonyms
(photo credit: GUY FERRANDIS/SBS FILMS)
While diplomatic relations between Israel and Iran are nonexistent, there are signs that in the cultural arena, relations may be thawing, as Iranian film critics selected films by directors who are Israeli, married to Israelis or Jewish among their top movies of 2019.
Forty-two Iranian film critics participated in the poll conducted by Cine Eye, an online film magazine edited by Iranian critic Parviz Jahed.
While Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman took the top spot, Israeli director Nadav Lapid’s Synonyms was in 11th place. Synonyms, which won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 2019, tells the story of an alienated Israeli who moves to Paris and tries to become French. The Iranian critics listed it as a French film – and while several of its producers are French, it is listed in the Internet Movie Database as a French/German/Israeli co-production.
In addition to writer/director Lapid, its co-writer, Haim Lapid, its star, Tom Mercier, and many of its actors, crew and producers are Israeli. It features a character singing the Israeli national anthem, “Hatikvah” – albeit in an anguished, cynical rendition – and getting a security job at the Israeli embassy.
Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood was named third on the list. Tarantino is married to Israeli singer/actress Daniella Pick and has spent significant amounts of time in Israel this past year. Upon winning the Best Screenplay Golden Globe Awards on Sunday night in Los Angeles, he thanked “my wife who’s watching from Tel Aviv, who’s pregnant with my very first child,” then switched to Hebrew to say, “Toda, geveret,” Hebrew for “Thanks, Mrs.”
Fourth place on the list went to Marriage Story by Noah Baumbach, who is Jewish on his father’s side. The film stars Scarlett Johansson, a Jewish actress who recently told British tabloid The Daily Mail that she has experienced antisemitism. Johansson is the global brand ambassador for the Israeli company SodaStream.
In November, Ashmina, a movie by Israeli director Dekel Berenson, won a prize in a short film festival in Tehran – although it was listed as a Nepali film, since it is set in Nepal.



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