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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Opening This Weekend: ‘Footnote’ Strikes Gold With Critics

Oscar-nominated and Cannes Film Festival winning Israeli film ‘Footnote’ opens in select theatres in Manhattan today.

Internationally acclaimed director Joseph Cedar orchestrates ‘Footnote’, a tale of father and son and their world of academia in Israel. Eliezer and Uriel Shkolnik, father and son as well as two prominent Hebrew University academics of the Talmudic Studies department, find themselves at a standstill when a horrible mistake has been made with the highly coveted national Israel prize.

Although their passions strike similar chords in arcane Jewish liturgy, the two characters’ personalities and role in academia could not be more different. Eliezer is stubborn and wary of the institution of academia, while Uriel is at the onset of his career, is well-received and adores the prestige. Meanwhile, Eliezer is notified that he is the winner of this invaluable honor of the Israel Prize when in fact, his son Uriel is the true recipient. A fateful decision befalls Uriel when he must choose whether to expose the truth about this blunder or support his father during this auspicious moment.

Kristin Hohenadel of The New York Times interviewed director Joseph Cedar earlier this week. Cedar remarked, “The tradition of fierce argument over words, the tension of generations, the tension between what is oral and what is written, these are all very basic things that drive the Talmud. That’s what this film is about.”

Born in New York City, Mr. Cedar moved to Israel at the age of 5, studying at both the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and New York University. Prior to ‘Footnote’, Cedar composed ‘Beaufort,’ another Oscar-foreign film nominee, about Israeli soldiers in southern Lebanon.

During a special screening for Hebrew University faculty, Moshe Halbertal, professor of Jewish thought and philosophy, commented on the faculty’s sentiment after the screening.

Halbertal noted there was “a feeling that the film represented something deep about that world, that it brought to life serious issues and struggles, that having a life’s quest doesn’t isolate you from human vulnerabilities.”

New York Times movie critic A.O. Scott, who granted ‘Footnote’ the Critics’ Pick seal, praises ‘Footnote’:

“The genius of ‘Footnote’ is that it is about those important things too [other than vanity of intellectuals]. Deftly turning the law of inverse proportions on its head Mr. Cedar spins a committee-room squabble into something authentically grand: a piercing satire, a poignant family drama and an investigation of the competing claims of honesty, loyalty, ambition and love.”

In Scott’s Time’s review, he personifies the Shkolnik father son dynamic to “the primal divide” in the Jewish state. The Jewish State, built on love, is likened to their relationship to academia in that “the love of learning, the love of other people…survive[s] on contention, renewing and extending quarrels from one generation to the next.”

If you’d like to see this amazing film (and why wouldn’t you),  ‘Footnote’ opens today in select theatres in Manhattan (LA next week). Times for New York cinemas are listed below:

Angelika Film Center New York, 18 West Houston Street (12:00 2:25  4:45  7:10  9:35  12:00 am)
Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, 1886 Broadway (11:00 am 1:00 pm 3:15  5:25  7:40 9:55)

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