Israeli Documentary on anti-Arab Jerusalem Soccer Team Wins Emmy

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A still from the Israeli documentary film 'Forever Pure.'
A still from the Israeli documentary film 'Forever Pure.'Credit: AP / Yes Doco

An Israeli documentary about the controversial Beitar Jerusalem soccer club and its group of extremist fans, known as La Familia, won an Emmy Award on Monday night.

Maya Zinshtein's "Forever Pure" portrays the especially stormy 2012-13 season, when the club’s then-owner, Arcadi Gaydamak, brought in two Chechen Muslim players. This divided the team’s fan base and demoralized the players, leading to a string of defeats, sometimes played to near-empty stadiums.

Maya Zinshtein. Her film was shown at the prestigious IDFP festival in the Netherlands and the Toronto Film Festival.Credit: Mintaha Neslihan Eroglu / Anadol

>>Until an Arab plays for Beitar Jerusalem...

Zinshtein originally started filming for the investigative Israeli television program "Uvda" and later turned the footage into a documentary. The film opened the Jerusalem Film Festival in 2016, where it won three awards, including the directing and editing prizes. 

The film was later shown at dozens of international film festivals, including the prestigious IDFP festival in the Netherlands and the Toronto Film Festival. The film has been broadcast by the PBS network in the United States on over 1,000 local channels and on the BBC in Britain and was purchased by Netflix last year.

Another Israeli movie, Ido Haar's "Princess Shaw," was nominated for an Emmy in the category dedicated to films focused on arts and culture, but did not end up winning the award. The film tells the story of an anonymous New Orleans singer, Princess Shaw, who was accidentally discovered by Israeli musician Kutiman. The movie did well in Israeli cinemas and was later distributed in the United States by Magnolia and Participant Media.

The Emmy Awards honor the best in television and are handed out by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles.

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