July 31, 2008
Predictable List of Ophir Award Nominations Announced
By HANNAH BROWN
In a year when there just hasn't been much buzz about new Israeli releases, the nominees for the Ophir Awards, which were announced Tuesday at a press conference in Tel Aviv, were a predictable bunch.
Leading the pack were Reshef Levy's Lost Islands, a star- packed, crowd-pleasing comedy-drama about the ups and downs of a close-knit family in the Eighties, and 7 Days, directed by siblings Ronit Elkabetz and Shlomi Elkabetz, a somber look at a Moroccan family grieving the loss of one of its members during the first Gulf War, which won the Wolgin Award at the recently concluded Jerusalem Film Festival.
The biggest surprise of the entire nominee list was that Ari Folman's Waltz with Bashir, an animated film about veterans of the first Lebanese War remembering their experiences, was nominated as a feature film and not as a documentary. In spite of its animated format, its director has described it as a documentary. It received rave reviews when it was shown at the Cannes Film Festival last May.
Rounding out the top five were Marco Carmel's Like Your Father, a drama about an Israeli family that relocates to Paris, and Igal Burstyn's Out of the Blue, an urban fairy-tale about two Tel Aviv junk dealers who get involved with a gorgeous cosmetics mogul.
In the Best Director category, the directors of four of the nominated films will face off against each other, but Burstyn was not nominated for Out of the Blue. In his place is Eran Riklis, who directed Lemon Tree, a serious drama about a Palestinian housewife whose lemon grove is set to be cut down when the defense minister moves in just across the Green Line from her.
In the Best Actress category, Ronit Elkabetz and Hana Azoulay Hasfari (who won the Wolgin Award for Best Actress at the Jerusalem Film Festival) were nominated for 7 Days, along with Yael Abecassis for Like Your Father, Hiam Abbass for Lemon Tree and Orly Silbersatz for Lost Islands.
Israel's hardest-working actor, Moshe Ivgy, is nominated twice, for Out of the Blue and Restless. The other nominees are Michael Moshonov for Lost Islands, Albert Eloz for 7 Days and Shredi Jabarin for For My Father.
The nominated documentaries are Ron Tal's Children of the Sun, about children who grew up on kibbutzim; Eilat Bergur's House of Love, the story of an orphanage for Jewish children in Berlin from the Twenties to the mid- Thirties; Yishai Orin's The Beetle, a look at owners of a single car in Israel; Danny Sirkin and Ido Bahat's An Idiot's Dream, about a son trying to fulfill his father's grand plan; and Orly Vilnai Federbush and Guy Meroz's Moral Payments, about Holocaust survivors living below the poverty line.
The winners of the Ophir Awards will be announced at a ceremony in Tel Aviv on September 23. The feature film that wins will be Israel's official entry to be one of the five films nominated for a Best-Foreign Language Film Oscar.
Originally published by HANNAH BROWN.
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