Oscar Hopes High as 'Ajami' Crew Heads for Hollywood

Israeli filmmakers face stiff competition for 'best foreign-language movie' award.

The Israeli filmmakers behind the Oscar-nominated picture "Ajami" arrived in Los Angeles on Thursday to attend this Sunday's Academy Awards ceremony at the Kodak Theater.

This is the third consecutive year in which an Israeli-made motion picture has been nominated for best foreign-language film.

The film's writer-directors, Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani, producers Talia Kleinhendler and Moshe Danon, and eight of the cast members are in Hollywood. Yet due to the limited amount of seating set aside for the Israeli contingent, only the directors and producers will be able to attend the ceremony, which takes place early Monday morning Israel time.

The rest of the cast and crew will watch the festivities live at a special event organized by the Israeli consulate in Los Angeles.

The odds of "Ajami" capturing the prize are not great, according to both movie critics worldwide and Internet gambling sites. Most observers expect the German entry, "The White Ribbon," which was directed by Michael Haneke, to get the nod.

In the days prior to the ceremony, the Israeli crew will attend several Hollywood gatherings. On Thursday, they sat down with journalists at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, and on Saturday, Copti and Shani will participate in a special symposium of directors nominated for the best foreign-language film, organized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Their fellow nominees, in addition to Haneke, are Jacques Audiard, director of the French film "A Prophet"; Claudia Llosa ("The Milk of Sorrow," from Peru); and Juan Jose Campanella ("The Secret in Their Eyes," Argentina).