Film is about 'teaching your kids a better way'

Israeli director Guy Nattiv’s ‘Skin’ wins Oscar for best live action short film

Director cites Holocaust survivor grandparents in acceptance speech, saying bigotry they experienced is all around us today and was motivation for film about race relations

Guy Nattiv, right, and Jaime Ray Newman accept the award for best live action short film for "Skin" at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Guy Nattiv, right, and Jaime Ray Newman accept the award for best live action short film for "Skin" at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Israeli filmmaker Guy Nattiv’s short film “Skin” on Sunday won the Oscar for best live action short film, with the director crediting his Holocaust survivor grandparents for the motivation for the film on race relations.

“Oh my God, I moved here five years ago from Israel. Laila tov, Yisrael (Good night, Israel), hi,” he said as accepted the award.

“My grandparents are Holocaust survivors. The bigotry that they experienced in the Holocaust — we see that everywhere today, in America, in Europe. This film is about education, about teaching your kids a better way,” he said

The film is about a gang war that breaks out in a small town after a black man smiles at a white child at a supermarket.

Nattiv wrote “Skin” with Sharon Maymon, who is also from Israel. Nattiv grew up in Israel and now lives in Los Angeles.

The 20-minute film has been developed into a full-length feature by the same name, also directed by Nattiv.

The other Oscar nominees for best live action short film were “Detainment” by Vincent Lambe, “Fauve” by Jeremy Comte, “Marguerite” by Marianne Farley and “Mother” by Rodrigo Sorogoyen.

With the win, together with Nattiv’s wife, actress Jaime Ray Newman, the academy said history was made with 13 women capturing Oscars. The Academy said the previous record was set in 2007 and matched in 2015.

For your consideration. Skin. Short. Trailer.

Posted by SKIN SHORT FILM A film by Guy Nattiv, Jaime Ray Newman and Sharon Maymon on Tuesday, January 8, 2019

In other categories, the biopic “RBG” about Jewish US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg missed out in the best documentary feature, losing out to  Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin’s “Free Solo,” which chronicles rock climber Alex Honnold’s famed, free solo ascent of Yosemite’s El Capitan, a 3,000-foot wall of sheer granite, without ropes or climbing equipment.

Other Jewish nominees failed to take home Oscar trophies — including Rachel Weisz, up for supporting actress for her work in “The Favourite,” and the Coen brothers, whose script for “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” was up for best adapted screenplay.

But “BlacKkKlansman,” co-written by Jewish writers Charlie Wachtel and David Rabinowitz (along with Kevin Willmott and director Spike Lee), won the best adapted screenplay award. The film centers on the first African-American cop in the Colorado Springs police force, who teams up with a Jewish detective to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan.

Israel’s entry for foreign-language film, “The Cakemaker,” was eliminated from contention last year.

“Green Book” was the winner of the Academy Award for best picture.

Peter Farrelly, center, and the cast and crew of “Green Book” accept the award for best picture at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

The film from Universal Pictures stars Mahershala Ali as an African-American concert pianist in the 1960s and Viggo Mortensen as his driver. It won three Oscars on Sunday, including best supporting actor for Ali and best original screenplay.

Alfonso Cuaron won best director, his second win in that category, after “Gravity” in 2014. His film “Roma” is based on his childhood in Mexico and the woman who raised him.

The movie won the best foreign language film Oscar for Mexico, its first.

The writer-director dedicated his speech to domestic workers, noting that tens of millions of them work around the world with any rights.

Lee’s best adapted screenplay win for his white supremacist drama “BlacKkKlansman” gave the Dolby Theatre ceremony Sunday its signature moment. The crowd rose in a standing ovation, Lee lept into the arms of presenter Samuel L. Jackson and even the backstage press room burst into applause.

Lee, whose film including footage of President Donald Trump following the violent white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, spoke about the upcoming election.

“The 2020 election is around the corner. Let’s all mobilize. Let’s be on the right side of history,” said Lee, who was given an honorary Oscar in 2015. “Let’s do the right thing! You knew I had to get that in there.”

Charlie Wachtel, left, and Spike Lee accept the award for best adapted screenplay for “BlacKkKlansman” at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Ryan Coogler’s superhero sensation “Black Panther” won for Ruth Carter’s costume design, Hannah Beachler and Jay Hart’s production design, and Ludwig Göransson’s score. Beachler had been the first African-American to ever be nominated in the category. Beachler and Carter became just the second and third black women to win non-acting Oscars.

“It just means that we’ve opened the door,” Carter, a veteran costume designer, said backstage. “Finally, the door is wide open.”

Two years after winning for his role in “Moonlight,” Mahershala Ali won again for his supporting performance in the interracial road-trip drama “Green Book” — a role many said was really a lead. Ali is the second black actor to win two Oscars following Denzel Washington, who won for “Glory” and “Training Day.” Ali dedicated the award to his grandmother. “Green Book,” a film hailed by some as a throwback and criticized by others as retrograde, also took best original screenplay.

Queen launched Sunday’s ceremony with a medley of hits that gave the awards a distinctly Grammy-like flavor as Hollywood’s most prestigious ceremony sought to prove that it’s still “champion of the world” after last year’s record-low ratings. The tie-in was to “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the hit Freddie Mercury biopic, whose director, Bryan Singer, was fired mid-production. It won three Oscars for editing, sound mixing and sound editing.

An image of Freddie Mercury appears on screen as Brian May, left, and Adam Lambert of Queen perform at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

To compensate for a lack of host, the motion picture academy leaned on its presenters, including an ornately outfitted Melissa McCarthy and David Tyree Henry and a Keegan-Michael Key who floated down like Mary Poppins. Following Queen, Tina Fey — alongside Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph — welcomed the Dolby Theatre audience to “the one-millionth Academy Awards.”

Rudolph summarized a rocky Oscar preamble that featured numerous missteps and backtracks by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences: “There is no host, there won’t be a popular movie category and Mexico is not paying for the wall.”

The trio then presented best supporting actress to Regina King for her pained matriarch in Barry Jenkins’ James Baldwin adaptation “If Beale Street Could Talk.” The crowd gave King a standing ovation for her first Oscar.

The inclusivity of the winners Sunday stood in stark contrast to the #OscarsSoWhite backlash that marked the 2016 and 2015 Oscars. Since then, the academy has worked to diversify its largely white and male membership, adding several thousand new members and opening the academy up internationally.

More women won Oscars than ever before. Still, this year’s nominations were criticized for not including a female best director nominee or a best-picture nominee directed by a woman.

Though the once presumed front-runner “A Star Is Born” appeared to flame out as awards season continued, it won, as expected, for the song “Shallow,” which Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper performed during the ceremony. As she came off the stage, Cooper had his arm around Gaga as she asked, “Did I nail it?”

Mark Ronson, from left, Anthony Rossomando and Lady Gaga accept the award for best original song for “Shallow” from “A Star Is Born” at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic “Vice” won makeup and hairstyling for its extensive physical transformations. The category was one of the four that the academy initially planned to present during a commercial break and as its winners — Greg Cannom, Kate Biscoe and Patricia Dehaney — dragged on in a litany of thank-yous, they were the first to have their microphone cut off.

To turn around ratings, Oscar producers pledged a shorter show. In the academy’s favor is a popular crop of nominees: “Bohemian Rhapsody,” ”A Star Is Born” and, most of all, “Black Panther” have all amassed huge sums in ticket sales. Typically, when there are box-office hits (like “Titanic”), more people watch the Oscars.

JTA contributed to this report

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