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"Intimate Grammar," a Nir Bergman film based on David Grossman's novel "The Book of Intimate Grammar," leads the list of candidates for this year's Ophir Prize, with nominations in 12 categories, including best picture. The finalists for Israel's premier cinema award were unveiled yesterday at a press conference hosted by the Israel Film Academy in Tel Aviv.

Four other films are contending for the best picture win: Doron Tsabari's "Revolution 101," Guy Nattiv's "The Flood," Eran Riklis' "The Human Resources Manager" and Avi Nesher's "Once I Was."

This is the first time veteran filmmaker Nesher has had a finalist in running for best picture. But Bergman's film, which took home the top prize at the Jerusalem Film Festival earlier this month, is riding a wave of momentum. One film whose absence from the best picture list was particularly notable was Dover Koshashvili's "Infiltration."

The film did earn Koshashvili a slot in the best director category, where he will compete against Bergman, Tsabari, Riklis and Moshe Ivgy, who snagged the nomination on behalf of the first film he ever directed: "And on the Third Day."

Other films with several nominations include "The Human Resources Manager," with nominations in eight categories and "Once I Was," with seven. "The Flood," "And on the Third Day" and "Infiltration" each received six nods - though in Koshashvili's case, two of the nominations are in the same category: Assaf Ben Shimon and Michael Aloni will be competing against each other for best supporting actor.

Much of the press conference was devoted to the dispute over whether "Revolution 101" should be allowed to compete for best feature film, as opponents claim it is really a documentary. Gidi Orsher, head of the prize committee, said the academy's management discussed this issue on Sunday, with representatives of both sides present. The conclusion, he said, is that since more than half the film was scripted and staged, it should be allowed to compete in the best picture category.