Israeli director: I may not have won at Venice if Jane Fonda was on jury
'It makes no sense to boycott art,' says Samuel Maoz after winning top prize at Venice Film Festival for 'Lebanon.'
The director of the Israeli war film "Lebanon" has said he may not have won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival on Saturday if the actress Jane Fonda, who has protested against Israeli cinema being spotlighted, had been on the jury.
"The point of a film like mine is to open a dialogue, to get people talking to each other about important issues," Samuel Maoz told the British paper The Observer, in comments published Sunday.
"This is something you can't do if films are boycotted. It makes no sense to boycott art. Maybe I wouldn't have won if Jane Fonda was on the jury, but she wasn't."
Fonda, 72, is among the signatories of a letter protesting the decision of the Toronto International Film Festival to screen a series of movies about Tel Aviv.
The festival jury announced the Golden Lion and other prizes on the last day of the 11-day international festival.
Maoz's anti-war film recounts Israel's 1982 invasion of its northern neighbor through soldiers' eyes, telling the story of paratroopers searching a hostile town. The conflict is seen through the binocular-aided eyes of soldiers in an armored vehicle.The director was a young man when he served as a combat soldier in the Israel Defense Forces during the invasion.
The operation led to a two-decade long occupation by Israel.
"I suppose every filmmaker has the naive, even pathetic dream that his film could be the one that finally stops a war," Maoz was further quoted as saying.
"But making this film has got me my life back and that is more precious than any award. Without fully knowing it, I have been deeply traumatized since 1982, as has a whole generation of Israelis, people who are now running the country. Making 'Lebanon' and finally confronting what happened in that war, has given me my true feelings back and I can cry real tears once more."
The weekly entertainment magazine, Variety, has described the film as the boldest and best of the recent mini-wave of Israeli movies; the New York Times called it "an astonishing piece of cinema."
The awards jury was headed by Ang Lee, himself a Golden Lion-winning director.