Tue 23 Sep 2008
Last year the Israeli Academy of Motion Pictures chose “The Band’s Visit” as the country’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar. But the film was disqualified by the AMPAS for having too much English dialogue. The runner-up, “Beaufort”, then became the first Israeli film to garner an Oscar nomination in 24 years. “Band” went on to become the highest grossing Israeli film in the US, and won its share at the European Film Awards.
This year, Israel’s pick is less controversial, but not less unique and outstanding. “Waltz With Bashir”, one of the most buzzed-about films internationally since its debut in Cannes, swept the Ophir Awards, Israel’s Academy Awards, this evening. The animated war film, tagged “an animated documentary” over here, won six awards tonight, including h awards for best Direction, Best screenplay and Best Film, all going to writer-producer-director Ari Folman, who based the movie on his real-life memories - or lack thereof - of the first Lebanon war in 1982. Local smash hit “Lost Islands” took four trophies. “Seven Days” took two. And “Lemon Tree” took one, for Hiam Abbas as best actress.
It is Folman’s second movie to win Israel’s Academy Award. The first was 1997’s “Saint Clara”, co-directed with Ori Sivan. In between Folman wrote and directed episodes in some of Israel’s most prestigious TV dramas, most noticeably for “In Treatment”, which was remade last year for HBO as a series staring Gabriel Byrne.
“Bashir” is the second movie made about the first Lebanon war, after last year’s Oscar nominated “Beaufort”. A third movie dealing with the same war, called “Lebanon”, is currently in post-production.
Sony Pictures Classics are releasing “Bashir” in the States, and are trying to push the film as this year’s “Persepolis” (which failed to get a Foreign Oscar Nomination but got one in the Animated Feature category - “Bashir” could do the same). “Bashir” played Telluride and Toronto and will be shown next at the New York and London Film Festivals.