Israeli director Guy Nattiv won an Oscar for the best live action short film at the 91st Academy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday night. Nattiv took home the prize for his film Skin, marking a rare win for an Israeli director at the prestigious ceremony.
“I moved here five years ago from Israel,” Nattiv began his acceptance speech on Sunday evening, before adding in Hebrew: “Good night, Israel.”
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“My grandparents are Holocaust survivors… the bigotry that they experienced in the Holocaust, we see that everywhere today: in America, in Europe,” Nattiv continued in his speech. “This film is about education: about teaching your kids a better way.”
Skin, an English-language bio-drama set in the United States, is about a neo-Nazi skinhead and his son.
The movie stars Jackson Robert Scott (It), Jonathan Tucker (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and Danielle Macdonald (Dumplin', Patticakes).
Nattiv wrote the film together with his screenwriter Sharon Maymon. Nattiv’s wife, actress Jaime Ray Newman, produced the film.
Newman joined him on stage, and said that she and her husband “dedicate this to our five-month-old baby who’s sitting at home with my parents watching this. We hope that you grow up in a world where these things don’t happen, because people learn to love and accept each other.”
In an interview with KAN after the acceptance, Nattiv said the win was a win for Israelis.
“Israel – this is for you,” he said. “This film was made by Israelis, and its message is for Israel and also for the United States, against racism,” he added, with Newman chiming in: “it’s for the whole world.”
President Reuven Rivlin congratulated Nattiv on Monday for the honor.
“Congratulations to Guy Nattiv on his Oscar win for the best short film,” Rivlin said. “All of the good words about Skin are for you, for Sharon and for Jamie Ray, but the film is a gift for our children and grandchildren, and for the future that we want for them so they can fulfill their dreams. Proud to be lsraeli. Mazel tov!”
Culture Minister Miri Regev also congratulated Nattiv, saying she was thrilled to wake up to the news.
“This win is another story of the success of Israeli cinema,” said Regev. “Nattiv grew up in our country, the son of Holocaust survivors. Nattiv’s win, for a film about hatred and racism, is an important cinematic chapter in the uncompromising struggle against those who choose racism as their way of life. I congratulate Guy and all those who were partners in his film.” Regev added that she would be thrilled if he would “return to Israel to make your next film!”
Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman offered his best wishes to Nattiv, and lauded him for “waving a red flag with his film in front of the troubling growth of antisemitism in the world. It is more food for thought for Jews around the world, that only Israel is their real home.”
Other politicians – including Benny Gantz, Moshe Ya’alon, Amir Peretz, Tamar Zandberg and Nir Barkat – also lauded Nattiv’s achievement.
Irit, Nattiv’s mother, told Army Radio on Monday morning that she always knew he would win.
“The whole family believed he would win,” she said. “Nobody thought he would make it to the top five [nominations], but deep in our hearts we knew. At the moment of the announcement we exploded with happiness.”
During an interview in the press room after the Academy Awards, Nattiv and Newman said that they’re already prepping for a feature-length version of Skin to hit theaters in the US this summer, according to Deadline. That version of the film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival lat year, and won the prestigious Fipresci Prize.
Nattiv has said he plans to make his next film about the life of his grandmother, a Holocaust survivor who moved to Israel and then later joined a cult in the United States.