Israel’s Oscar submission for best foreign-language film has failed to make the shortlist of movies still in the running at the 91st Academy Awards.
Since submitting its first entry – and winning its first nomination — for “Sallah” in 1964, Israel has made the short list of top nominees 10 times, but has never won the coveted award.
This year, fans of Israeli cinema can stop biting their fingernails anticipating the outcome. Israel’s entry “The Cakemaker,” a challenging film on bisexual affairs between German and Israeli lovers, was eliminated in the first round.
The list of nine semifinalists among entries from 87 countries, announced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Monday evening, eliminated the Israeli entry.
Israel was not the only rejected contender. The three leading countries in the number of both Oscar nominees and ultimate Oscar winners – Italy, France and Spain – were all eliminated this time around.
Yet, oddly enough, if the themes chosen by a country’s filmmakers reflect in some ways the interests of their movie-going citizenry, the world’s fascination with the Holocaust, World War II and their aftermath has never been higher.
Eight countries have this year submitted films that deal directly or indirectly with the fate of Europe’s Jews during their darkest period — Austria, France, Holland, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia and Switzerland.
None of these countries’ films made the shortlist, but of particular interest is Russia’s “Sobibor,” centering on the 1943 uprising in the notorious concentration camp, and Romania’s “I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians,” which focuses on the massacre of Odessa’s Jews by the Romanian army.
Shortlists, decided on by executive committees in the film academy, help narrow the playing field in many of the categories before they are whittled down further to five final nominations in late January.
Many believe Mexico’s “Roma” to be a front-runner for a best picture nomination as well, while the acclaimed “Burning,” which is based on a Haruki Murakami story, could make history by becoming South Korea’s first ever nominee.
Other films in contention include Poland’s “Cold War,” which was snubbed by the Golden Globe Awards, Lebanon’s “Capernaum,” Japan’s “Shoplifters,” Colombia’s “Birds of Passage,” Denmark’s “The Guilty,” Germany’s “Never Look Away” and Kazakhstan’s “Ayka.”
AP contributed to this report.