2013 Ophir nominations announced - snubs and all

While once the Ophirs were of little significance outside of the local filmmaking community, they have taken on more significance in recent years.

Ophir's awards: Candies (photo credit: (Fred Kelman))
Ophir's awards: Candies
(photo credit: (Fred Kelman))
The nominations for the Ophir Awards, the prizes of the Israel Academy of Film and Television, aka the Israeli Oscars, were announced on Tuesday in Tel Aviv, and the political thriller Bethlehem, directed by Yuval Adler and Ali Waked, led the pack with 12 nominations.
The film tells the story of an Israeli intelligence officer who befriends a Palestinian informant, and was also nominated for directing, actor (Shadi Mar’i), screenplay, supporting actor (Zachi Halevy), cinematography, editing, casting, art design, makeup, music and soundtrack.
The other four Best Picture nominees are Reshef Levi’s Hunting Elephants, about three elderly men planning a bank robbery; Joseph Pitchhadze’s Candies, about a Palestinian opening a candy factory; Guy Nattiv and Erez Tadmor’s Magic Men, the story of a father and son who go on a mystical journey to Greece; and Johnathan Gurfinkel’s Six Times, about alienated teens in the Tel Aviv area.
While I haven’t seen all of the nominees yet, I can say that that, as is its tradition, the Academy has seen fit to snub the work of Avi Nesher, whose latest film, The Wonders, was the best Israeli movie I’ve seen this year.
It received nominations only for Yuval Scharf’s performance and for best makeup.
It was not nominated in either of the best music categories (soundtrack and music), even though it features a score by Hadag Nahash, one of Israel’s best bands, and classical musician Avner Dorman.
While there’s no accounting for taste, the fact that once again, one of Israel’s most respected directors did not receive a directing nod – and has never received a Best Director nomination for any of his films from the Israel Academy – shows just how much like the Oscars the Ophirs have become, in their refusal to honor the best in Israeli cinema.
The best director nominees, in addition to the Bethlehem directors, are Candies’ Pitchhadze, Six Times’ Gurfinkel, Tom Shoval for Youth, and Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado for Big Bad Wolves.
The Best Actor nominees are Bethlehem’s Shadi Mar’i; Magic Men’s Makram Khoury; Hunting Elephants’ Sasson Gabay; Big Bad Wolves’ Zachi Grad; and A Place in Heaven’s Alon Aboutoul.
The Best Actress nominees are Reymond Amsalem for Kidon and Plasticine; Tali Sharon for She’s Coming Home; Rotem Zussman for A Place in Heaven; Sivan Levy for Six Times; and Yuval Scharf for The Wonders.Two Oscar nominees are among those nominated for Best Documentary, Dror Moreh’s The Gatekeepers and Guy Davidi and Emad Burnat’s 5 Broken Cameras.
Through some quirk of the nominating process, they were not eligible for Ophir Awards last year, although they competed in the 2012 Jerusalem Film Festival. The other nominees are Ron Tal’s Garden of Eden, about a national park; Yoav Halevy’s Bureau 06, about the Eichmann trial; Yehonatan Indursky’s Ponevezh Time, about a famous yeshiva; and Riki Shellach’s Ladies First, about a group of very strong women.
The comedy group Ha Gashash Hahiver, will get a Lifetime Achievement Award.
While once the Ophirs were of little significance outside of the local filmmaking community, 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 six 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.
The winners will be announced at a ceremony in September.