Cinefile: 'Beaufort' advances on the Oscar front

The wait is over: Joseph Cedar's Beaufort just received a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.

beaufort film 88 224 (photo credit: )
beaufort film 88 224
(photo credit: )
It's been 24 years since Uri Barabash's Beyond the Walls was nominated for an Oscar, but the wait is over: Joseph Cedar's Beaufort just received a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film this week. It shouldn't come as a surprise that the movie was chosen, because it's a moving, passionate and well-acted anti-war movie about the last unit of Israeli soldiers serving in Lebanon in 2000, in the Beaufort Castle. It's based on Ron Leshem's award-winning novel, which was just published in English as Beaufort, although the original Hebrew title translates as If There is a Heaven. Leshem collaborated with Cedar on the screenplay for a year and a half, which should be a lesson to the many filmmakers here who seem to dash off their scripts. The Oscars have passed on many fine Israeli films over the last few years, including Cedar's own previous films, Campfire (2004) and Time of Favor (Ha'hesder) (2000). But when Beaufort made the short list of the nominating committee last week, clearly, the nomination was within reach. Nine films out of 63 submitted by countries around the world were chosen for the list, so just to have made the cut was an honor. While no one who saw Cedar's moving film could be surprised by its inclusion, there was a huge surprise when the short list was released late last week and the Romanian film that won the Palme d'Or at Cannes, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days was not on it. The film blogosphere exploded with outrage over the snub and it really is hard to understand how the Oscar voters did not see fit to reward this haunting and audacious movie (it's been over a month since I saw it and I still can't get it out of my head). What does all this prove? As screenwriter William Goldman said, "Nobody knows anything." By the way, remember the controversy over the fact that Eran Kolirin's The Band's Visit, which won the Ophir Award and was Israel's initial entry into the Oscar race, was disqualified by the Academy because it featured too much English? That movie was wonderful, but Beaufort, a very different film with a wider scope and an anti-war message, will represent Israel admirably. Beaufort just opened in limited release in New York and received favorable and thoughtful reviews from the critics. Congratulations to Cedar and the entire cast and crew. THE BRITISH FILM FESTIVAL at cinematheques around the country winds up this week. Among the British classics showing at the Jerusalem Cinematheque is David Lean's epic war drama, Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), starring Alec Guinness, at 4 p.m. today. Tony Richardson's The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962), a moving film based on the Alan Sillitoe novel about a boy in a reform school chosen to represent the institution in a race, stars Michael Redgrave and a very young Tom Courtenay and will be shown on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Both of these films are worth seeing on the big screen. THE JERUSALEM CINEMATHEQUE is showing two documentaries about the Holocaust - one by the son of a Nazi who was Hitler's envoy to Slovakia, and another by an Israeli whose father, a Holocaust survivor, never shared his memories with her. 2 or 3 Things I Know About Him, directed by Malte Ludin, is showing on Monday at 7 p.m. Ludin's father was executed for his crimes in 1947, but Ludin investigates his father's life as a Nazi, although his sisters are still in denial about his involvement. Ohad Ufaz and Shirley Barenholtz collaborated on Open Eye - Open I, which is showing on Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. Barenholtz is a Dutch-Israeli photographer, whose survivor father never opens up to her until he meets a young Israeli survivor of a suicide bombing. Observing this encounter proves cathartic for his daughter.