Israeli Actor Igal Naor Wins Award for an Outstanding Portrayal of Saddam Hussein

Last week at the 49th Monte Carlo Television Festival Israeli actor Igal Naor won a Golden Nymph award for Outstanding Actor in the miniseries House Of Saddam. If you haven’t seen this four part HBO/BBC2 co-production, this might be a good time to brush up on your Iraqi history. The miniseries spans 25 years of Saddam Hussein’s rule, starting in the 1979 coup that brought him to power and details the Iraqis’ love and fear for their leader, up to his demise. Igal Naor delivers a brilliant performance, showing the depths of the dictator’s mind, while avoiding making a caricature out of this complex man. Naor, who also played a brilliant role as an Egyptian interrogator in the 2007 film Rendition, proves that the West’s fascination with the Arab world in recent years provides acting opportunities much more significant than the clichéd ‘dead terrorist number 3’ roles.
Two other Israeli actors in this production are Makram Khoury as Tariq Aziz, the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister and Uri Gavriel as “Chemical Ali” Hassan al-Majid, head of Mukhabarat, the Iraqi intelligence Agency.

Here’s a short inside look:

Waltz With Bashir Does Not Win Oscar

A few minutes ago, Israeli filmmaker Ari Folman lost his bid for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Hebrew speaking Waltz With Bashir, an animated documentary film, or documation, was Israel’s eighth nomination in this category and while everybody here hoped it would be Israel’s first win – unfortunately that was not in the cards tonight. Previous Israeli nominees include:

Foreign Language Film Nominations:
Sallah (Sallah Shabati, 1964)
The Policeman (HaShoter Azoulay, 1971)
I Love You Rosa (Ani Ohev Otach Rosa, 1972)
The House on Chelouche Street (HaBayit Berechov Chelouche, 1973)
Operation Thunderbolt (Mivtsa Yonatan, 1977)
Beyond the Walls (MeAhorei HaSoragim, 1984)
Beaufort (2007)
Documentary Feature Nomination:
The 81st Blow (HaMakah Hashmonim V’Echad‎, 1974)
Best Actor Nomination:
Chaim Topol (as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof‎, 1971)

Here is Ari Folman sitting at a bar, drowning his sorrows, apparently holding someone else’s Oscar statuette (…yes, I manipulated the photo in advance):
Ari Folman Accepting Israel's First Academy Award For Waltz With Bashir

More on this on your mainstream media.


Israeli Film ‘Waltz with Bashir’ Nominated For An Academy Award

After winning numerous awards including a Golden Globe, Ari Folman’s documation ‘Waltz with Bashir’ has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Minutes ago, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has made its announcement for the 81st Academy Awards ceremony, that will be held exactly one month from today, on February 22, 2009, at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California.

Waltz with Bashir Nominated For An Oscar

Israeli Film ‘Waltz with Bashir’ Wins Golden Globe

An Israeli anti-war film wins a prestigious award amidst a war: Ari Folman‘s Waltz with Bashir received last night a Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Some called it the first animated documentary, or documation, but as I mentioned before that is not the case.

The film is based on Folman’s own experiences as a 19-year-old IDF infantry soldier during the 1982 Lebanon War. American-Arab blog KABOBfest predicts that “in about 20 years, one of the Israeli soldiers currently partaking in the invasion of Gaza will make an award-winning film called ‘Waltz With Abbas’, recounting his experience in committing war crimes, with some psychoanalytic prelude that exonerates himself from responsibility for own action”.

Watch the trailer:

Watch writer/director Ari Folman’s acceptance speech:

I wanna dedicate this prize, as we promised to do, to the eight beautiful production babies who were born in our tiny studio in Tel Aviv during the making of Waltz with Bashir, four years – and I hope one day when they grow up they’ll watch this film together and they see the war that takes place in the film, it will look to them like an ancient video game that has nothing to do with their lives whatsoever. Thank you so much!
   – – Ari Folman, Golden Globe Awards, January 11, 2009

Beaufort Loses Best Foreign Film in Academy Awards

While it would have been nice to get the very first Oscar for an Israeli film, Joseph Cedar’s Beaufort was not Oscar material in my book.

Here is Cedar making his good-for-you-face to Austrian winner Stefan Ruzowitzky for Die Fälscher (The Counterfeiters):

Joseph Cedar (right) making his good-for-you-face to Austrian Winner Stefan Ruzowitzky (left) for Die Fälscher (The Counterfeiters)

More info on your mainstream media.

Academy Award Nominations Concur: America is at a Crossroads

With all the excitement of an Israeli film nominated for an Academy Award for the first time in twenty years, I did not pay enough attention to the Documentary Feature category:
Three out of five films nominated deal directly with the Iraqi conflict, including ‘No End in Sight‘, which I wrote about in a post titled ‘Watch This Film and Become a Better Citizen of the World in 90 Minutes‘. If you were not persuaded to follow my advice then, with an Oscar nomination you really have no excuse now.

Watch the No End in Sight trailer here:


The 80th Academy Awards telecast, hosted by Jon Stewart (Leibowitz), will be broadcasted live:
USA – February 24th, 5PT/8ET, ABC
Israel – February 25th, 3am, Hot Gold (channel 12)