Oscar nominee resolves Shabbat dilemma

Cedar figures he can walk the two-mile distance to the high-profile symposium in about an hour.

joseph cedar 88 298 (photo credit: AP)
joseph cedar 88 298
(photo credit: AP)
Joseph Cedar, director of the Oscar-nominated Israeli film Beaufort, and an Orthodox Jew, has resolved a thorny Shabbat dilemma. Traditionally, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences holds a high-profile public symposium for the five finalists vying for the best foreign-language film Oscar on the day before the award ceremony. This year, the symposium will be on Saturday morning, Feb. 23, and Cedar was uncertain whether he could participate on a Shabbat. "I had a long talk with my rabbi in Israel," said Cedar, 39, who is in Los Angeles with his family now in anticipation of the awards. "He decided that I could attend as long as I didn't use a microphone and walked to the event at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater." Cedar figures he can cover the two-mile distance in about an hour, an almost unheard feat for pedestrian-phobic Angelenos, but no big deal for Israelis - even for an Israeli who was born in New York, but whose parents made aliya when he was five. In the meanwhile, the excitement in Israel about its film industry's first Oscar nomination since 1984 is building up. Gilad Millo, the resident Israeli consul for public affairs, said that more than a dozen of the main Israel media outlets will send television and print reporters to cover the Oscar ceremonies. In addition, some 30 cast members and financial backers of Beaufort will arrive in Los Angeles on Feb. 20. The social component of the Oscar award season kicked off for Beaufort Tuesday evening (Feb. 12) with a screening and reception sponsored by the Israeli consulate and the entertainment division of the Jewish Federation. Topping the parties will be an Oscar night bash for Israeli and Hollywood filmmakers in one of the city's poshest private homes. Cedar, who is not given to hyperbole, said that he and his family were very happy about the nomination, but his main satisfaction was that the film could now be assured a bigger exposure and longer life. He described his reactions in a phone call Wednesday evening, after spending the day on the obligatory Disneyland tour with his wife, journalist Vered Kelner, six-year-old daughter Amelia and three-year-old son Levi. A paratrooper during the first Lebanon War, Cedar has infused Beaufort with gritty realism in depicting that conflict, not in the glory of victory, but in its indecisive, exhausted end. The movie is based on the novel Im Yesh Gan Eden (If There is a Paradise) by Ron Leshem, who co-wrote the screenplay with Cedar. Cedar's first two films, Time of Favor and Campfire were both voted Israel's top films and Oscar entries in 2001 and 2004, respectively. Millo termed the Oscar nomination a "landmark event" and an auspicious beginning of Israel's 60th anniversary celebrations. Taken together with the successes of other current Israelis' entries at prestigious European film festivals, optimists are foreseeing a breakthrough for the country's film industry, akin to the golden ages of French and Italian films in the 1950s and '60s. So far, no Israeli has ever won an Academy Award, but Millo believes this is about to change. Asked what kind of celebration he planned if Beaufort's title is pulled out of the envelope on Feb. 24, Millo answered, "It's not a question of 'if', but of 'when.'"