Israeli film “Foxtrot” on Saturday won the second-place Grand Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival, and drew criticism from Culture Minister Miri Regev over its portrayal of the Israeli army.
“It’s outrageous that Israeli artists contribute to the incitement of the young generation against the most moral army in the world by spreading lies in the guise of art,” said Regev in a statement Saturday night.
The Likud minister accused the film of giving “a tailwind to BDS [the Israeli boycott movement] and haters of Israel all around the world,” while calling for the state to end funding to films that “become a weapon of propaganda for our enemies.”
Regev, who formerly served as the IDF spokesperson, later specifically singled out a scene in the film that showed Israeli soldiers killing and burying an Arab family.
“Foxtrot” director Samuel Maoz on Saturday defended the film, saying no society can flourish when “critics are considered to be traitors.”
“If I criticize the place I live, I do it because I worry. I do it because I want to protect it. I do it from love,” he told reporters.
“Foxtrot” opens with an affluent Tel Aviv couple (Lior Ashkenazi and Sarah Adler) being informed their soldier son has died in the line of duty.
The parents are floored by grief, and the film has more shocks in store for them as it explores the way trauma scars individuals and societies, and ripples across generations.
Maoz’ 2009 Venice winner, “Lebanon,” was a claustrophobic portrait of an Israeli tank crew, inspired by the director’s own experiences as a young soldier.
While “Foxtrot” has real-life roots, the director says he structured the film like a Greek tragedy, with three acts in which “the hero creates his own punishment and fights against anyone who tries to save him. And he is unaware of the outcome that his actions will bring about.”
The film’s middle section depicts the son’s experience as one of four soldiers manning a desolate roadblock. It is a life of muddy tedium with the potential for sudden violence.
Maoz has said the roadblock is more allegorical than real, a way of exploring conflict-scarred Israel “and the distorted perceptions that come out of terrible past trauma.”