2012 Ophir Award nominees announced

Eytan Fox’s latest film, 'Yossi,' fails to receive a single nomination.

Ballad of the Weeping Spring 370 (photo credit: Eyal Fisher)
Ballad of the Weeping Spring 370
(photo credit: Eyal Fisher)
The Ophir Award nominations were announced by the Israel Academy for Film on Tuesday in Tel Aviv, and there were few surprises, although one of Israel’s finest filmmakers – Eytan Fox – was snubbed. There is usually one prominent director of a good film that gets the cold shoulder, and this year, it’s Fox.
Eytan Fox’s latest film, Yossi, which had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in April, did not receive a single nomination, in spite of receiving generally positive reviews. Perhaps even more striking than its omission from the list of Best Picture nominees, and Fox’s from the list of Best Director nominees, is that its leading man, Ohad Knoller, who portrays the same character he did in Fox’s 2002 film, Yossi & Jagger, was not nominated for a Best Actor award.
Knoller, perhaps best known to audiences these days as Nati in the television series, Srugim, is a distinguished actor, who gives one of his best performances ever in Yossi. Oz Zehavi and Lior Ashkenazi, who gave good supporting performances, were also left off the nominee list.
While once the Ophirs were simply an opportunity for members of the academy to put on their newest pair of jeans and have a few drinks, 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 five years, four Israeli films have received one of the five coveted nominations in this category: Joseph Cedar’s Beaufort and Footnote, Ari Folman’s Waltz with Bashir, and Yaron Shani and Scandar Copti’s Ajami. Although none of them won, receiving so many nominations has been a big boost for the Israeli film industry.
So what films may be getting Oscar gold this year? The five nominees for the Best Picture are: The Ballad of the Weeping Spring, a drama structured like a samurai epic or Western, about the reunion concert of a group of Mizrahi musicians; God’s Messengers, a portrait of a troubled, newly ultra-Orthodox young man; The World is Funny, a sentimental comedy about some eccentric characters; Fill the Void, the story of an ultra-Orthodox bride who is about to marry when tragedy strikes; and Rock the Kasbah, about a group of Israeli soldiers stationed in the Gaza Strip in the late Eighties.
The Best Director nominees are Eran Kolirin for The Exchange, his follow-up to his very successful 2007 film, The Band’s Visit; Meni Aish for God’s Neighbors; Rama Burshtein for Fill the Void; Shemi Zarhin for The World is Funny; and Yariv Horowitz for Rock the Kasbah.
The Best Actor nominees are: Uri Gavriel (who can currently be seen in The Dark Knight Rises) for Ballad of the Weeping Spring; Roy Assaf for God’s Messengers; Eli Finish for The World is Funny; Yosef Carmon for Epilogue; and Gal Toren for Up the Wrong Tree.
The Best Actress nominees are: Sharon Tal, The Exchange; Assi Levy, The World is Funny; Asia Naifeld, Room 514; Rivka Gur, Epilogue; and Hadas Yaron for Fill the Void.
The Best Supporting Actor nominees are Alon Aboutboul (who can also be seen in The Dark Knight Rises) for The Dealers; Dov Navon, The Exchange; Gal Friedman, God’s Messengers; Danny Steg, The World is Funny; and Chaim Sharir, Fill the Void.
The Best Supporting Actress nominees are: Rotem Zissman Cohen, God’s Messengers; Naama Shitrit, The World is Funny; Irit Sheleg, Fill the Void; Sarit Vino Elad, Until Summer’s End; and Khaula al-Haji- Dabsi, Rock the Kasbah.
This year, a new category for Fringe (or independent) productions has been added, and the winner has already been selected: Joe and Belle, a black comedy about mismatched lesbian lovers.
Screenwriter Eli Tavor will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Ophir Award winners will be announced in a ceremony in September.