Thu Jan 10, 2013, 05:40 PM
Scurrilous (27,610 posts)
2 Israeli films win Oscar nomination
Two documentaries dealing with Israeli-Palestinian conflict to compete for Academy Award on February 24. 'Every filmmaker dreams of such news,' says 'The Gatekeepers' director. 'The significance of this nomination is spreading the story to as many people as possible,' says '5 Broken Cameras' co-director
"The Mideast conflict has done little to help Israel's image in the world, but the way local filmmakers deal critically with the Israel-Palestinian issue has won wide international praise – and this year, recognition from the top of the movie industry.
Two Israeli-produced documentaries about the conflict have been nominated for an Oscar, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Thursday.
Few Israeli films have contended in the Best Documentary category before. The two selected films represent rare recognition of foreign entrants in a category dominated by American productions.
The two films examine the conflict from contrasting viewpoints, one through the eyes of the occupier and the other through those of the occupied. Neither does the Israeli government any favors – though it helped foot the bill.
"The Gatekeepers" features candid interviews with retired Israeli spymasters, while "5 Broken Cameras" tells the personal story of an amateur Palestinian cameraman who documents clashes between his fellow villagers and Israeli soldiers and settlers.
Both films were listed by the New York Times as "Critics' Picks," and "The Gatekeepers" won praise from the paper's chief critic as one of the best documentaries of 2012."
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2 Israeli films win Oscar nomination (Original post)
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Tue Jan 15, 2013, 10:48 PM
Scurrilous (27,610 posts)
6. Israel confronts its “image problem”
Two Oscar-nominated Israeli-made documentaries expose the ethical and political failures of the occupation
"It’s no secret that Israel has an image problem, to put it mildly. From unabated settlement construction in the West Bank infuriating the international community and eliciting repeated condemnations in the U.N., to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bellicose approach to Iran that has strained relations with the Obama administration, to Israel’s consistent disregard for Palestinian human rights, Israel is one of the most divisive subjects in international politics and media. At next month’s Oscar ceremony, that “image problem” will be on prominent display as two local films centered around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and highly critical of Israel are up for nominations in the best documentary category.
“The Gatekeepers” – an Israeli/French/Belgian production directed by Israeli Dror Moreh – takes the audience into the world of Israel’s anti-terror operations since it assumed control of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, as told by the very men who oversaw them. Moreh, who says he is inspired by Errol Morris’ “The Fog of War,” conducts in-depth interviews with six former heads of Israel’s Shin Bet (the secret internal security service, comparable to the FBI), whose candid recounting of targeted assassinations, village raids and prisoner interrogations reveal the ethical and political failures of Israeli occupation.
“Five Broken Cameras,” a Palestinian/Israeli/French production (which is currently airing on Hulu), tells the story of a small West Bank village’s nonviolent struggle against Israel’s separation wall, settlement construction and military control, as told through the eyes (and lens) of Emad Burnat, a resident of Bil’in, which has become a model and international symbol of Palestinian civil disobedience.
Between 2005 and 2011, Burnat’s five cameras have all been physically damaged while documenting the Israel Defense Forces’ violent dispersal methods during weekly protests against the separation wall built on Bil’in’s lands (which was partially dismantled and rerouted last year following a 2007 Israeli High Court ruling). His footage documents routine arrests and night raids in the village, and the killing of several residents by IDF fire while they were protesting peacefully. Burnat has been arrested and shot, and in the film, his wife implores him to stop documenting for fear of another arrest. It is impossible to come away from this movie without a palpable sense of Israel’s unjust treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank.
In “The Gatekeepers,” it is not Palestinians, but senior figures from the heart of Israel’s security establishment who criticize Israeli policies. The oldest and most notorious of the interviewees, Avshalom Shalom – who served as Shin Bet chief from 1981 to 1986 and was forced to resign after allegedly ordering the killing of two Palestinians terrorists apprehended after hijacking a bus in 1984 – admits that peace and security cannot be achieved only through military might. He and the others say that Israel must find a way to work with the Palestinians to find a solution. In stark contrast to current government policies and the general atmosphere in the halls of Israel’s Knesset today, all six spymasters call on Israel to negotiate with Hamas, Iran and Islamic Jihad. “In the State of Israel, it’s too great a luxury not to speak with our enemies,” Shalom says. It’s in the nature of the professional intelligence man to talk to everyone. That’s how you get to the bottom of things.”
Both films put Israel in the international spotlight, sending a clear message that something is very rotten in the Holy Land – not exactly the image Netanyahu and his government want to project to the world. The films constitute candid, tragic confessions of what reality is like on the ground, snapshots of the recent history of Israel/Palestine – one through the perspective of the occupied, and the other, the occupier; one, a grass-roots compilation of rough amateur footage showing civilians going up against a massive army, the other a sophisticated amalgamation of archival footage and digitally re-created imagery that exposes the inner workings and downfalls of some of Israel’s most covert security operations."