Israeli flicks lose again at Oscars

(JTA) — “Searching for Sugarman” took home the Oscar for best documentary Sunday night, ensuring that another year passed without an Israeli film winning one of the coveted golden statues.

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Among the documentaries that came up short were “The Gatekeepers,” an Israeli documentary featuring a series of interviews with six former leaders of Israel’s Shin Bet security service, and “5 Broken Cameras,” an Israeli-Palestinian co-production that tells the story of a Palestinian village resisting the encroachment of a nearby Israeli settlement.

Directed by Dror Moreh, “The Gatekeepers” features the former security chiefs arguing that Israeli policy in the Palestinian territories is ultimately futile and self-defeating. The interviewees, men who were responsible for some of Israel’s most daring and controversial operations, say that Israel must try to negotiate with the Palestinians and find a path to a peace settlement — even if it means negotiating with terrorist groups.

“5 Broken Cameras” was co-directed by Palestinian Emad Burnat and Israeli Guy Davidi. A Palestinian farmer from the village of Bil’in, Burnat began collecting the footage that would become “5 Broken Cameras” in 2005, after the birth of his fourth son, Gibreel. Around that time, the nearby settlement of of Modi’in Illit was established, and Burnat found himself chronicling the skirmishes between the villagers protesting the settlement’s blocking of land access and the Israeli soldiers brought in to protect it.

With financial help from Davidi and the Israeli government’s film fund, Burnat turned his raw footage into a documentary.

No Israeli film has ever won an Academy Award, though several films by the American-born director Joseph Cedar have been nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film category. Cedar’s “Footnote,” nominated last year, lost out to an Iranian film, “A Separation.”

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