Israel’s place at the Oscars will remain, at least for now, as just a footnote.
The country’s losing streak at the Academy Awards continued Sunday night as Iranian film “A Separation” beat out local entry “Footnote” for the Foreign Film award.
The loss to the highly touted Iranian film came as no great surprise, but was the latest in a long line of disappointments for Israel at the Oscars. An Israeli film has now been nominated four of the past five years, with losses every time.
““I’m not disappointed, I’m happy,” the mother of “Footnote” director Joseph Cedar told Israel radio right after the announcement, at about 4 a.m. local time. “Till the next film. It’s all fine. The Iranian director is terrific. It’s a shame we can’t have normal relations with creative people.”
The loss was Cedar’s second at the Oscars. His military movie “Beaufort” fell short at the awards in 2008.
“A Separation” was the first Iranian film to win an Academy Award, in the country’s second try.
Director Asghar Farhadi accepted the award, speaking in Farsi front of the Los Angeles crowd.
Amid talk of “war, intimidation and aggression” among politicians, he said, Iran is spoken about here “through her glorious culture, a rich and ancient culture that has been hidden under the heavy dust of politics.”
With his daughter, Sarina Farhadi, who co-stars in the film, looking on from the audience, Farhadi added: “I proudly offer this award to the people of my country, the people who respect all cultures and civilizations and despise hostility and resentment.”
Footnote tells the story of two Talmud scholars who happen to be a father and son competing for the Israel Prize, the country’s top academic honor.
At the Cannes Film Festival, “Footnote” was awarded the top prize for best screenplay, and in the United States the National Board of Reviews of Motion Pictures placed the film among the five top foreign-language features.
It was seen as perhaps Israel’s best chance to take home its first Oscar after “Beaufort” (2007), “Waltz with Bashir” (2008), and “Ajami” (2009) fell short.
The big winner Sunday night was “The Artist,” which won five Academy Awards, including best picture, becoming the first silent film to triumph at Hollywood’s highest honors since the original Oscar ceremony 83 years ago.
Among other prizes awarded Sunday for the black-and-white comic melodrama were best actor for Jean Dujardin and director for Michel Hazanavicius.
The other top Oscars went to Meryl Streep as best actress for “The Iron Lady,” Octavia Spencer as supporting actress for “The Help” and Christopher Plummer as supporting actor for “Beginners.”
“The Artist” is the first silent winner since the World War I saga “Wings” was named outstanding picture at the first Oscars in 1929.
“I am the happiest director in the world,” Havanavicius said, thanking the cast, crew and canine co-star Uggie. “I also want to thank the financier, the crazy person who put money in the movie.”
The other wins for “The Artist” were musical score and art direction. Martin Scorsese’s Paris adventure “Hugo” also won five Oscars, all in technical categories.