Joseph Cedar's film, "Footnote," was nominated yesterday for the Academy Award's best foreign language film for 2011. Four Israeli films, including Cedar's "Beaufort" in 2007, have made the short list for the prestigious prize in the last five years.
The Israeli drama, starring Shlomo Bar Aba and Lior Ashkenazi, tells the story of a power struggle between a father and son who both teach at the Talmud department of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
"I feel like a really lucky guy," Cedar said yesterday at a press conference at Cinema City in Ramat Hasharon. "The film gained fans exceeding all expectations, and that's a very gratifying feeling." Asked whether he feels he'll win the prize this time, Cedar said that that question touches on one of the themes of his movie."It's an issue the film deals with: What happens to a normal life when a prize is involved, the way it dominates one's judgment and changes proportions of things. Similarly to what happens in the film, I have a twofold feeling - pride and excitement on the one hand and, on the other, a fear that this might be some sort of a mix up."
Cedar concedes that the nomination brought great relief. "One might think that we'd be immune to such pressures, since the film deals with prizes, their significance and lack of significance. But from the moment Sony [the film's distributor in the U.S.] got involved, it was almost impossible to handle the expectation. Now that we're nominated, it's much easier," Cedar said.
The film's leading actor, Shlomo Bar Aba, said yesterday that when he met Cedar for the first time, at a cafe, he was surprised to meet a man with a screenplay that was "odd, not ingratiating, high quality that doesn't quite fit in with the times." Bar Aba, who chose not to play in films in the past 20 years, said that "it seemed like an intimate biography that would target an audience of about 10 people. I swear I don't know why, by I just couldn't refuse this man's energy, and we embarked on a trip to the unkown."
"Footnote" won nine Ophir awards (the Israeli "Oscar" ) four months ago, and took home the best screenplay award at the 2011 Cannes festival.
Cedar's film will compete against entries from Iran, Poland, Belgium and Canada in the 84th Academy Awards ceremony, which will be held at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood on February 26.
At the press conference, David Mandil who produced the film with Moshe and Leon Edery - and with the support of the Israel Film Fund - insisted that in order for the Israeli film industry to flourish, larger budgets must be allocated. "I call on all those responsible to do their best to enlarge the budgets of Israeli films, so we can repeat these achievements in the future," said Mandil.
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