Israeli director Samuel Maoz’s controversial and critically acclaimed feature film ‘Foxtrot’ has missed out on a nomination for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said Tuesday.
The Israeli tale of parental grief, trauma and loss was one of nine films named by the academy to the shortlist, which was whittled down to five finalists ahead of the March 4 ceremony. Ninety-two films had been considered, the Academy said.
Movies from Lebanon, Chile, Russia, Hungary and Sweden made the final cut.
The five nominees include Lebanese filmmaker Ziad Doueiri’s forceful “The Insult” about Lebanon’s civil war; Chilean director Sebastian Lelio’s drama with a transgender heroine, “A Fantastic Woman”; and Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev’s stark divorce story “Loveless.”
Also nominated are mystical abattoir drama “On Body and Soul” by Hungarian director Ildiko Enyedi, and Swedish filmmaker Ruben Ostlund’s art world satire “The Square.”
“Foxtrot” won the Silver Lion at this year’s Venice Film Festival and swept the Ophir awards, Israel’s version of the Oscars, with eight wins, earning it a place as Israel’s entry for the Foreign Language award.
Told in a distinctive three-act structure, Maoz built each section different in style and tone. In the first part, middle class couple Michael and Dafna Feldman are informed that their soldier son, Yonatan, has fallen in the line of duty. The second act is based at an unnamed, remote Israeli roadblock and the last section returns to the family’s Tel Aviv apartment.
The film provoked a storm of controversy earlier this year when Culture Minster Miri Regev, who boasted she had not seen the film, condemned it as a work of treachery, calling for the state to end funding for films that can be used as “a weapon of propaganda for our enemies.”
“The Insult,” set in the post-war era, centers around a legal dispute between Christian nationalist Tony, played by Lebanese actor and comedian Adel Karam, and Palestinian refugee Yasser, played by Basha.
The French-Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri was briefly detained this year in Lebanon, after arriving in the country to promote the film, for having shot 2013’s ” The Attack,” in Israel. He was eventually cleared by a military tribunal.
Israel’s last nominee to make it to the Oscars was Joseph Cedar’s 2011 film “Footnote,” which lost to Iranian film “A Separation.” An Israeli film has not made the shortlist since.
Fairy tale romance “The Shape of Water” topped the list of Oscar nominations on Tuesday with 13 nods, including for best picture, actress and supporting actor.
In second place was World War II epic “Dunkirk” with eight, while crime drama “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” came in third with seven.
AP and AFP contributed to this report.