"Incitement", a film about Yigal Amir, wins Ophir Award for Best Picture

Incitement will now be Israel’s official selection for consideration for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nomination.

Incitement wins Ophir Award (photo credit: COURTESY OF UNITED KING FILMS)
Incitement wins Ophir Award
Yaron Zilberman’s Incitement, a drama about Yigal Amir, the man who assassinated former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, won the Ophir Award for Best Picture and drew the ire of Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev, who has a history of using the Ophirs to stir up political controversy.
The Ophir Awards, the annual prizes issued by the Israel Academy of Film and Television, were announced in a ceremony held at the Kfar Saba Cultural Center on Sunday night.
Incitement will now be Israel’s official selection for consideration for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nomination.
“Yigal Amir is a murderer who fired a bullet in the heart of the nation and has done the worst [deed] of all – killing the prime minister of a democratic state,” Regev, who did not attend the ceremony, said in a statement. “There is no place for a movie which tries to understand him and his motivations and there is no place for a movie that hints, or blames, other factors for the contemptible act that he carried out.”
Regev also criticized the film’s creators, saying they “did not miss an opportunity to treat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as part of a campaign of incitement, which is a distortion, falsification and deception of the public and completely detached from the facts.”
She added that she had not seen the film, which was also the case two years ago when she condemned Samuel Maoz’s Ophir-winning film Foxtrot, which she slammed for what she heard about its portrayal of an IDF cover-up of civilian deaths. In 2016, she walked out of the ceremony when an Arab rapper performed a Mahmoud Darwish poem.
Incitement is a portrait of Yigal Amir that examines the personal frustrations that led him to murder Rabin, but also places his actions in the context of a climate of incitement against the prime minister at the time. Newsreel footage of anti-Rabin rallies from just before his assassination that were incorporated into the film show Netanyahu speaking at a rally in which crowds called for the killing of Rabin.
Incitement director Zilberman drew cheers at the end of the night when he implicitly criticized Netanyahu as he spoke against corrupt leaders, praised Rabin and said he hoped that future leaders would unite the country. The rest of the ceremony was uncharacteristically low on political commentary.
This year, films that tackled social issues took home the lion’s share of the awards. Yaron Shani won Best Director Award for Chained, about a policeman on a downward spiral that leads to violence; Eran Naim won the Best Actor Award for his performance in the film. Liron Ben-Shlush received the Best Actress Award for her performance in Michal Aviad’s drama Working Woman, which has been dubbed the first #MeToo movie and tells the story of a married mother who is sexually harassed by her boss.
The Supporting Actor and Actress Awards went to actors from Gur Bentwich’s Peaches and Cream, a movie about a film director having a midlife crisis. Dover Koshashvili, himself a movie director, plays a cab driver, and Hadas Ben-Aroya, also a director, plays a social media expert.
Sameh Zoabi won Best Screenplay for his script for Tel Aviv on Fire, a comedy about a Palestinian who writes a soap opera under the guidance of an Israeli soldier.
Tomer Heymann’s Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life, a movie about a gay Israeli porn star, won the Best Documentary Prize.
The hosts of the evening were actors Tsahi Halevi and Yuval Scharf.
The Lifetime Achievement Award went to director/actress Michal Bat-Adam and the Award for Professional Achievement was given to distinguished film critic Nahman Ingbar. Director Avi Nesher presented the award to Ingbar, his mentor and friend.
The shortlist for the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award nominations will be announced in December. Israeli films have been nominated in the category 10 times, but have never won.