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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Israel at the Oscars: A Retrospective

Earlier today, Hollywood’s phones were ringing off the hook as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominations for this year’s Oscars, which will take place February 26th. One of the filmmakers who got the coveted call this morning was Joseph Cedar, acclaimed Israeli director whose film “Footnote” was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film. No Israeli film has ever won.

Could this be the year Israel takes home an Academy Award? Since 1964, when Israel first began submitting films for consideration, ten Israeli films have been nominated for Best Foreign Language Film.

Even more impressive, for four of the last five years, an Israeli film has been nominated for Best Foreign Language Film. In 2008, it was Beuafort, also directed by Joseph Cedar, telling the story of some of the last IDF soldiers stationed in an outpost prior to the end of the Second Lebanon War. Beuafort‘s nomination in 2007 was the first for an Israeli film since 1984. In 2009, Waltz with Bashir won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film but not the Oscar. And in 2010, Ajami was also nominated for the Oscar.

And now, Footnote has the chance to win the Academy Award for Jospeh Cedar, and bring tremendous pride to Israel’s thriving film industry. As is always the case with the Oscars, nothing is a shoe-in, and this year, competition is extremely tight with wonderful films from Canada, Belgium, Poland, and Iran also nominated. The Iranian film, “A Separation” recently won the Golden Globe, which of course is often times a precursor to an Oscar. In addition to its nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, Iranian writer-director Ashghar Farhadi’s film also earned a nod for Best Original Screenplay.

Will Footnote be an Oscar surprise? We’ll be tuning in to watch when the Oscars air on Sunday, February 26th on ABC.

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