Israel's Oscar Hopeful 'Bethlehem' Fails to Make Shortlist

Yuval Adler's film about the relationship between a Shin Bet agent and a Palestinian teenager represented Israel in the Foreign Film category.

The critically-acclaimed Israeli film "Bethlehem," which tells the story of a Shin Bet Security Service officer and his complex relationship with a Palestinian teenager, failed to make the Oscars shortlist for best foreign language film.

Director Yuval Adler's debut film won several prizes and distribution deals, and was seen by many as Israel's strongest contender for the Oscars in years.

The film's plot focuses on the relationship between a Shin Bet officer (played by Tsahi Halevi) and a Palestinian youth (Shadi Mar’i), who is the younger brother of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade commander in the city. The youth sees the Shin Bet man as a father figure and tries to maneuver between the Israeli’s expectations of him and his loyalty to his brother; as a result, he lives a double life, lying to both of them.

The nine films that advanced on Friday to the penultimate round of voting were chosen from the 76 movies that had originally been submitted in the category. The films, listed in alphabetical order by country, are: Belgium, The Broken Circle Breakdown; Bosnia and Herzegovina, An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker; Cambodia, The Missing Picture; Denmark, The Hunt; Germany, Two Lives; Hong Kong, The Grandmaster; Hungary, The Notebook; Italy, The Great Beauty; and from Palestine, Omar.

The final five nominees will be announced on January 16 and the 86th Academy Awards will be presented on March 2.