Israeli Disengagement Documentary Seeks Oscar Nomination

The announcement of the Oscar nominees tomorrow will tell whether the Israeli "Storm of Emotions" is to be included among the five finalists contending for the best full-length documentary award.

The movie, directed by Yael Klopmann, is among 15 short-listed candidates, chosen from an initial pool of 81 documentary films. It documents preparations for the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, and the withdrawal itself, in August, 2005, through the eyes of four Israeli policemen.

The press in the U.S. is treating the Israeli film as the surprise of the list, which includes mainly American movies, including four on the war in Iraq, and Davis Guggenheim's "An Inconvenient Truth," starring Al Gore. Klopmann's achievement is particularly impressive in light of the fact that it is her first full-length documentary. Klopmann, 37, a graduate of Camera Obscura, began her cinematic career as a photographer and later turned to direction. Her decision to create a documentary on the disengagement was reached together with her husband, producer Mickey Rabinovitz, who produced the movie together with American Jim Abrams (the sole investor in the movie, which was not supported by any Israeli fund).

"At home we started discussing making the movie when they began talking about the pullout," Klopmann said. "We wanted to document the behavior of the police during the operation. They pledged to act 'sensitively and with determination.' Among other things, we documented the preparations of the police, including the various scenarios they prepared for."

Because she was in her ninth month of pregnancy at the time, Klopmann supervised the filming from her home in Tel Aviv, preparing lists of questions to ask the interviewees, as well as directing instructions, and sending them in via radio.

Klopmann said that she and her partners "were ecstatic," when they were told their film had made it to best documentary short list. "We are competing with American movies that have been showing at festivals for a year, but we decided to try anyway." Klopmann notes that since the short list was published there has been a great deal of interest in the film, and explains that "Storm of Emotions" portrays a withdrawal almost devoid of violence. "It shows a different Israel. The world is used to seeing Israelis as violent, and this picture shows a humane police force," she said.