Minister banned from film awards

VENICE VICTORY: Samuel Maoz with the Silver Lion grand jury prize

ISRAELI film Foxtrot’s victory at the Venice Film Festival has had repercussions for Culture Minister Miri Regev.

She attacked director Samuel Maoz after he scooped the Silver Lion grand jury prize because, she claimed Foxtrot would give “a tailwind to haters of Israel all around the world,” referring to the BDS movement.

As a result, the Israel Film Academy announced on Tuesday that it will not be inviting politicians to attend the forthcoming Ophir Awards.

In response, Regev called the move cowardly and undemocratic, and vowed to stream her speech live on Facebook during the ceremony instead.

Last year, Regev walked out when Israeli-Arab actor and rapper Tamer Nafar took to the stage.

Foxtrot has been nominated for 13 Ophir Awards and is favourite to win Best Picture, which means it would be Israel’s submission to the Oscars.

The film, which takes a swipe at the Israeli media, is the second Venice prize for director Samuel Maoz, who won the top prize, the Golden Lion, in 2009 for his film Lebanon.

One scene shows Israeli soldiers slaughter an Arab family.

Regev, who was the IDF spokeswoman before she entered politics, wrote on Facebook: “In the IDF, I served for over 25 years, there are no such scenes. Just slander.”

She said state funding for such films “become a weapon of propaganda for our enemies”.

Maoz said his criticism of Israel is because he loves his country.

“If I criticise the place I live, I do it because I worry,” he said. “I do it because I want to protect it. I do it from love.”

Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin said: “I did not watch the film, but I’m going to watch it.

“I do not know if I will like it, but I will watch it as I try to watch every Israeli film.

“In general, I am a great fan of Israeli cinema, which is a symbol of freedom of expression and the strength of Israeli democracy.

“Israeli cinema is one of the most important ambassadors of Israel in the world because of its quality, and because of the way it reflects different aspects of life in Israel, with all the challenges and magic within it.”

A documentary film about a Polish-Jewish filmmaker was another winner at the festival. The Prince and the Dybbuk, by Elwira Niewiera and Piotr Rosolowski, received the Venice Classics Award for Best Documentary.

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 director and Hollywood producer Michael Waszynski.

Meanwhile, Disobedience, an adaptation of Naomi Alderman’s 10-year-old novel, had its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival on Sunday.

The film, set in the London Orthodox Jewish community, stars Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams as lesbian lovers.

It will open in the UK next May.

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