Two Israeli Films Make Oscar Documentary Shortlist

Academy announces it had chosen 15 candidates for best documentary from among 126 films. The next step is for the Documentary Branch of the Academy to choose the final five nominees.

Two Israeli documentaries have made the Academy Awards' short list for best documentary nominees - "5 Broken Cameras," directed by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi; and "The Gatekeepers," directed by Dror Moreh.

The Academy announced on Tuesday that it had chosen 15 candidates for best documentary from among 126 films. The next step is for the Documentary Branch of the Academy to choose the final five nominees.

Burnat and Davidi's "5 Broken Cameras" is based on footage that Burnat shot in the West Bank village of Bil'in starting in 2005.

Burnat documented the first years of his baby's life, and the non-violent struggle against building the separation barrier on village lands. The film shows his friends and family members being shot and wounded by Israel Defense Forces soldiers, and Burnat's cameras being smashed one after the other.

The film won the best documentary award at the last Jerusalem Film Festival, as well as the documentary director's award at the Sundance Film Festival.

"The Gatekeepers" features interviews with six former Shin Bet directors - Ami Ayalon, Avi Dichter, Yuval Diskin, Carmi Gillon, Yaacov Peri and Avraham Shalom - who speak about their service and the leaders they served. Each returns again and again to a central question: Can basic values of universal justice and democracy be upheld in the face of frequent threats against the State of Israel?

The film was screened at several major festivals and was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics for distribution.

Other candidates on the Academy's short list include "Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry," about a persecuted Chinese artist and activist; "Bully," about high school students abusing their friends and the phenomenon's destructive consequences; "Detropia," about Detroit; and "This Is Not A Film," by Iranian director Jafar Panahi, who was forbidden to make films.

The final candidates will be announced on January 10, and the ceremony will take place on February 24.

Tomer Appelbaum