Oscars snub ‘Foxtrot’

Israeli films have been nominated for Best Foreign Language Film 10 times without a win.

January 23, 2018 18:54
3 minute read.

FOXTROT Trailer | TIFF 2017. (YouTube/TIFF Trailers)

FOXTROT Trailer | TIFF 2017. (YouTube/TIFF Trailers)


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Samuel Maoz’s controversial film Foxtrot, which was on the shortlist for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, did not receive a nomination, although many had been predicting it would be one of the final five. The nominations in all categories were announced Tuesday at an event in Los Angeles.

The nominees in the Best Foreign Language Film category are A Fantastic Woman, directed by Sebastián Lelio of Chile; The Insult, by Ziad Doueiri of Lebanon; Loveless by Andrey Zvyagintsev from Russia; On Body and Soul, by Ildikó Enyedi from Hungary; and The Square by Ruben Östlund of Sweden.

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The snub for Maoz’s film, which won the Silver Lion Grand Jury Prize at the Venice International Film Festival in September, likely pleased Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev, who had criticized the film – which she admitted she had not seen – over its depiction of the IDF.

Foxtrot, which tells the story of a soldier killed in the line of duty and his grieving family, portrays an incident in which IDF officers cover up an act of violence.

After its success in Venice, it won the Israel Academy for Film and Television’s Ophir Award for Best Picture, making it the country’s official selection for the Best Foreign Language Film nomination. The film had to compete with movies from 92 countries.
Israeli films have been nominated in this category 10 times without a win.

The nominees for Best Foreign Language Film are determined by an executive committee of interested Academy voters, who winnow down the submissions to a short list of nine, from which the final five are chosen.

This committee usually makes sure that the nominees are drawn from different parts of the world. It’s possible that the voters felt that there was only room for one controversial film from the Middle East, and that spot went to Doueiri’s The Insult, which tells the story of a dispute between a Christian and a Muslim in Beirut.

The Lebanese director came under attack from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) because in 2012 he made a movie in Israel, The Attack, about a Palestinian suicide bomber. Doueiri was briefly detained upon arriving at the Beirut airport after The Insult won the Best Actor prize at the Venice International Film Festival last September and was ordered to appear before a Lebanese military court. The charges were reportedly linked to his filming in Israel, which the director said was puzzling because he had been in and out of Lebanon many times since directing The Attack.

The Insult was also dropped from the Days of Cinema Festival in Ramallah, due to BDS pressure and threats.

The Chilean nominee, A Fantastic Woman, tells the story of a transgender woman whose lover dies; the Russian Loveless depicts a bitter custody battle; the Hungarian On Body and Soul is a fantasy love story set in a slaughterhouse; and the Swedish The Square is about the personal and professional crisis of an art curator.

The Golden Globe winner for the foreign-language category, In the Fade, a story about a German woman coping with the aftermath of a terrorist attack, did not receive an Oscar nod.

Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water, a fantasy set during the Cold War about a mute cleaner who falls in love with a creature kept in a lab, garnered the most nominations, 13 in all, including for Best Picture, Best Director for Del Toro and Best Actress for Sally Hawkins. Close behind in the nominations race were Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk and Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

In recent years, the lack of nominees of color and women in the directing and writing categories sparked an #Oscarssowhite campaign. This year, Greta Gerwig received nominations for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for Lady Bird, while Jordan Peele, who is African American, received Best Director and Best Original Screenplay nominations for Get Out. Two black actors, Daniel Kaluuya from Get Out and Denzel Washington for Roman J Israel, Esq. were nominated for Best Actor, while two black actresses, Octavia Spencer from The Shape of Water and Mary J. Blige from Mudbound were nominated for Best Supporting Actress.

The Oscars will be awarded at a ceremony on March 4.

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