Photo by: Courtesy ‘Ajami’ nominated for Oscar BY HANNAH BROWN
Arab-Israeli collaboration marks 3rd Israeli nomination in a row.
The Israeli film, Ajami, was selected as one of the five nominees for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. The Oscar nominees in all categories were announced Tuesday in a press conference in Los Angeles.
This is the third year in a row that Israel received an Oscar nomination in this category and Israel’s ninth nomination. No Israeli film has ever won the Best Foreign Film Oscar.
Ajami, a drama about crime in Jaffa, was directed by Scandar Copti, an Israeli-Arab Christian, and Yaron Shani, an Israeli Jew. While it’s anyone’s guess whether the film will be the first Israeli feature film to win an Oscar, the fact that it received a nomination at all is a triumph for its young directors, both first-time filmmakers. They spent seven years making the film, which features a cast of almost all non-professionals, mainly from Jaffa. Its complex narrative involves the conflicts and alliances among Israeli Arabs and Jews, Arab Christians and Muslims, as well as West Bank Palestinians and Bedouins. Ajami, which won a prize for Special Distinction in the Camera d’Or competition for first-time filmmakers at Cannes, also won the Ophir Award (the Israeli Oscar) last September, which made it Israel’s official entry for the Oscars.
Copti told The Jerusalem Post, “We're still on a hysterical adrenaline rush from it all. This is more than I dreamed of in my wildest dreams." It’s also a triumph for Israel in a year in which prominent film industry figures called for a boycott of a program of Israeli films at the Toronto film festival last fall. Ajami is a partnership between directors, producers and actors of different religions and points to the openness of Israeli society. It received funding from the Israel Film Fund, a government body.
The other nominees in this category are El Secreto do Sus Ojos (Argentina), Un Prophete (France), The White Ribbon (Germany) and The Milk of Sorrow (Peru).
The Oscar winners will be announced at the a ceremony on March 7 in Los Angeles.
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