Director of Oscar-shortlisted film ‘White Eye’ looks back on year

"Israel is the only country in the world that speaks Hebrew, and people all over the world saw this film in Hebrew and it touched their hearts."

A scene from the Israeli Oscar-shortlisted short film 'White Eye.' (photo credit: Courtesy)
A scene from the Israeli Oscar-shortlisted short film 'White Eye.'
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The short film White Eye by Israeli director Tomer Shushan was nominated for an Oscar in the Live Action Short Film category. The Oscar nominations were announced online on Monday.
“This is the most exciting moment in my life,” Shushan said. “For a few weeks I couldn’t sleep at all. It felt like five years. I have the most amazing team; I’m so happy for all of us.”
Last month, it was announced that White Eye was on the Oscar short list.
The movie, which is shot in one take, tells an intense story about the night-time odyssey of a young man in south Tel Aviv who comes across a locked bike that was recently stolen from him. He accuses an African worker of having stolen it, then discovers that the truth of what happened is more complicated.
White Eye has already won important prizes all over the world, including the Grand Jury Award at the 2020 SXSW Film Festival in 2020, which meant it qualified to be considered for the Oscars. It also won the 2020 Best Short Film Award at the Haifa International Film Festival, as well as 23 other international awards.
In 2014, the Israeli film Aya, by Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis, was nominated in this category but did not win. An Israeli film, Strangers No More by Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon, won in the Best Documentary Short category in 2011.
In the major categories, David Fincher’s Mank led the Oscar nominations with 10 nods, including for Best Picture, Director, Actor and Supporting Actress. The film is a character study of one of the leading American Jewish screenwriters of all time, Herman J. Mankiewicz, who wrote Citizen Kane. Other nominees for Best Picture are The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, Minari, Nomadland, Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal and The Trial of the Chicago 7.
Aaron Sorkin was nominatsed for Best Screenplay for The Trial of the Chicago 7, while one of the film’s stars, Sacha Baron Cohen, was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Abbie Hoffman in the film. Baron Cohen was also nominated, with a number of co-writers, for the screenplay of Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.
After years of criticism that the Oscars were “too white” and have not recognized a diverse enough range of filmmakers, including women directors, this year there are an unprecedented number of nominees of color in all categories and women in behind-the-scenes categories.
In the Best Actor category, the late Chadwick Boseman is nominated for his performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. His competitors are Anthony Hopkins for The Father, Gary Oldman for Mank, Steve Yeun for Minari and Riz Ahmed for Sound of Metal.
The Best Actress category features actresses from two movies about blues music in the 20th century: Viola Davis from Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Andra Day for The United States vs. Billie Holiday. They will face off against Vanessa Kirby for Pieces of a Woman, Carey Mulligan from Promising Young Woman and Frances McDormand for Nomadland.
For the first time, two women were nominated for Best Director: Chloé Zhao for Nomadland and Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman. They will compete against Thomas Vinterberg for Another Round, Fincher for Mank and Lee Isaac Chung for Minari.
Another interesting development this year is that, following the unprecedented win last year by the Korean-language film Parasite, there are a large number of nominees in many categories for movies and roles not in English.
Minari, the story of a Korean immigrant family to the US, most of which is in Korean, was nominated in six categories, including Best Picture. Vinterberg’s Another Round, a Danish film, received a nomination for Best Director, in addition to its nomination for Best International Film (the category that used to be known as Best Foreign Language Film).
The Oscars will be presented at a ceremony in Los Angeles on April 26.