‘Foxtrot’ director says next film won’t be Israeli
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‘Foxtrot’ director says next film won’t be Israeli

'There are limits to Hebrew,' Samuel Maoz says after Oscar snub and a public tiff with Israel's right-wing culture minister

Director Samuel Maoz receives the Silver Lion - Grand Jury Prize for his movie "Foxtrot" during the award ceremony of the 74th Venice Film Festival on September 9, 2017 at Venice Lido.
 (AFP Photo/Tiziana Fabi)
Director Samuel Maoz receives the Silver Lion - Grand Jury Prize for his movie "Foxtrot" during the award ceremony of the 74th Venice Film Festival on September 9, 2017 at Venice Lido. (AFP Photo/Tiziana Fabi)

The director of a hit Israeli film bashed by Israel’s culture minister said his next movie will be made in Hollywood, and in English.

“I’m considering a few [new projects], but my next project will be English-speaking,” Samuel Maoz told Haaretz in an interview published Sunday.

Maoz’s latest film, “Foxtrot,” won the Ophir, Israel’s top film prize, while drawing excoriation from Culture Minister Miri Regev. The surrealist drama centers on parents’ grief for a fallen son and includes a scene in which IDF soldiers cover up the murder of four Arab youths. Regev said the film “shows Israeli army soldiers in a deceptive manner as murderers and harms the good name of the Israel Defense Forces,” and was “not fit to represent Israel.”

In the interview, Maoz said Regev’s railing at the film — while admitting she had not watched it — “obviously created great public relations for the movie, and that pleases me because more people were exposed to it. That was the goal.” Still, he insisted, “her statements were defamatory, and reached the point of incitement. I received death threats. People wrote to me that they would spill acid on me in Tel Aviv. With all humility, the movie would have done fine without any public relations from Regev.”

His next project, he said, would not be Israeli.

“I feel there are limits to Hebrew. An Israeli film, no matter how successful, is limited. And I want to reach as large an audience as possible,” Maoz said. “I’m now looking at and considering offers I’ve received from Hollywood to write and direct my next project, which will be filmed in 2019. It will be a feminine movie for a change, a drama about a mother and daughter.”

An Israeli soldier does a mock dance with his rifle in “Foxtrot.” (Sony Pictures Classics)

After winning the Grand Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival last year and Israel’s Ophir, which marked it as Israel’s entry into the Academy Awards, “Foxtrot” was one of nine finalists — out of 92 — for consideration for the foreign-language Oscar. But it did not survive the next cull, which left just five films, the entries from Lebanon, Chile, Russia, Hungary and Sweden.

The failure was welcomed by Regev, who said it “saved us from bitter disappointment and prevented an untruthful worldwide representation of the Israeli army.”

AFP contributed to this report.

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