Israeli Film 'Foxtrot' Wins Silver Lion Grand Jury Prize at Venice Film Festival

Israel's culture minister slams the win, saying 'Foxtrot' gives a tailwind to the BDS movement

Samuel Maoz is awarded the jury's special Silver Lion prize for 'Foxtrot' during the award ceremony at the 74th Venice Film Festival at the Venice Lido, Italy, Sept. 9, 2017.
Samuel Maoz is awarded the jury's special Silver Lion prize for 'Foxtrot' during the award ceremony at the 74th Venice Film Festival at the Venice Lido, Italy, Sept. 9, 2017. Domenico Stinellis/AP

The Israeli film "Foxtrot" has won the Silver Lion grand jury prize at the Venice Film Festival on Saturday. Mexican director Guillermo del Toro's Cold War-era fantasy film "The Shape of Water" took the Golden Lion award.

This is the second win for "Foxtrot" Director Samuel Maoz in Venice, whose film "Lebanon" won the top prize, the Golden Lion, in 2009. It was the first Israeli film to win at the event, which is considered the third most prestigious film festival in the world. 

The film, an Israeli-German-French co-production, is a three-act tragedy about a father who seems to be doing everything right, but unintentionally brings about the death of his son, a soldier. Lior Ashkenazi plays the father, Sarah Adler is the mother and the son is played by Yonathan Shiray. 

The film recently made headlines when Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev attacked it, claiming it tarnishes the Israeli army's reputation. Regev herself has not seen the film, but was told by a senior official at the Culture Ministry about a scene where a group of soldiers at a checkpoint turn violent on Palestinians.   

Following Oz's win, Regev said "Foxtrot" is the type of film that gives a tailwind to the Israel boycott movement.

Director Samuel Maoz poses with actors Lior Ashkenazi and Sara Adler during a photocall for the movie "Foxtrot" at the 74th Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy September 2, 2017.
ALESSANDRO BIANCHI/REUTERS

"It's unfortunate that Israeli films that criticize the State of Israel and hurt its reputation and that of IDF soldiers are embraced and admired around the world," she said, asserting that the Israeli army is "the most moral army in the world."

"These kinds of movies give a tailwind to the BDS movement and to Israel's haters around the world, and draw cheers from our enemies," she said. "The film's win is yet another proof that the state must not fund movies that turn into propaganda in the hands of our enemies."

France's Xavier Legrand was picked as best director for his divorce drama "Jusqu'a la Garde" (Custody) at the Venice festival. 

Charlotte Rampling received the best actress award for her performance in Italian film "Hannah", while Palestinian Kamel El Basha took the best actor prize for his role in "The Insult". 

The award ceremony brings down the curtain on a 10-day movie marathon in which 21 international films featuring top Hollywood talent and auteur directors were in competition for the coveted top prize. 

Reuters contributed to this report