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At the Venice Film Festival…

Israeli movie ‘Foxtrot’ wins second-place prize

( The Israeli film “Foxtrot” won the second-place Grand Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival Saturday and drew strong criticism from Israel’s Minister of Culture Miri Regev for its purported negative portrayal of the IDF.

“It’s outrageous that Israeli artists contribute to the incitement of the young generation against the most moral army in the world by spreading lies in the guise of art,” Regev said in a statement Saturday night.

The minister also accused the film of giving the anti-Israel BDS movement and “haters of a Israel around the world” a “tailwind.”

The film is partially influenced by director Samuel Maoz’s own military experience in the IDF. It details the story of an affluent Tel Aviv couple informed that their young son, a soldier, has been killed in the line of duty at an isolated roadblock in Israel’s Negev desert.

“If I criticize the place I live, I do it because I worry. I do it because I want to protect it. I do it from love,” Moaz told reporters.

Foxtrot’s second-place prize comes eight years after Maoz’s debut feature film, the critically acclaimed “Lebanon,” won the festival’s Golden Lion prize, the highest award at the event.


Film about director of ‘The Dybbuk’ wins for best documentary

ROME (JTA) – A documentary film about a Polish-Jewish filmmaker has won an award at the Venice Film Festival.

The Polish-German co-production, “The Prince and the Dybbuk,” by Elwira Niewiera and Piotr Rosołowski, received the Venice Classics Award for Best Documentary on Cinema. The film traces the life of Moshe Waks, who was born into a poor Jewish blacksmith’s family in Kovel, in what is now Ukraine, and went on to become a director and Hollywood producer who made more than 40 films, working with stars such as Sophia Loren and Orson Welles. In the process he changed his name, religion, and identity and died in 1965, known as “Prince” Michael Waszyński. As a director in pre-World War II Warsaw, he directed one of the most famous Yiddish films: “The Dybbuk.”

“His true obsession, though, was ‘The Dybbuk’ or ‘Between Two Worlds,’ directed by Waszyński in 1937 and based on an old Jewish legend in which a young woman is haunted by the spirit (‘dybbuk’ in Yiddish) of her first love,” the documentary’s website states. “Not only is it one of the most important and mystical Yiddish films ever made, ‘The Dybbuk’ also mirrors Waszyński’s personal life as a restless man with many secrets and untold stories.”

The Israeli film “Foxtrot” won the Venice Festival’s Silver Lion grand jury prize.


Culture Minister Miri Regev not invited to ‘Israeli Oscars’

JERUSALEM (JTA) – The Israeli Academy of Film and Television announced it will not invite the country’s culture minister, Miri Regev, to the Ophir Awards, Israel’s Oscars.

Regev caused a stir at last year’s awards ceremony, walking out in protest while Arab-Israeli rapper Tamer Nafar performed a poem by the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. Regev returned to present the best film award and was loudly booed.

This year’s awards ceremony is scheduled for Sept. 19.

The academy said in a statement issued Tuesday that it “does not run away from confrontations and is prepared to conduct a substantive and penetrating discussion of criticism of it and the works of its members. Moreover, many of the works were created out of a desire to create a deep discussion and out of great love for Israeli society.”

The ceremony, the statement said in explaining why it would not invite Regev or other Israeli politicians, is the “one day of the year when the theater community shows appreciation and respect to the artist and their creations, and commemorates those among its members who have died.”

“Regrettably, with time the ceremony has changed its character and gradually become an inappropriate wrestling ring that cheapens the event and, even worse, cheapens the artists and the work that it is meant to show appreciation and respect to,” the statement also said.

Regev, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, blasted the decision in a Facebook post as “cowardly and undemocratic.” She also said she would deliver the speech that she would have given at the awards ceremony on her Facebook page in parallel with the awards ceremony.

Last year, she explained why she walked out on the Nafar performance.

“I have a lot of tolerance for the ‘other,’ but I have no tolerance for Darwish and anyone who wants to eliminate Israel,” she said. Darwish was a member of the PLO.

On Saturday night, Regev slammed the Israeli film “Foxtrot” after it was awarded the Silver Lion grand jury prize at the Venice Film Festival. A final scene in the film shows Israeli soldiers killing and burying an Arab family. Regev said state funding for such films “become a weapon of propaganda for our enemies.”

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