At this year’s Academy Awards, Israel’s blossoming film industry has two nominations for the Best Documentary Award. In this highly competitive category, Israel is dominating with “The Gatekeepers,” following former chiefs of the Shin Bet, Israel’s secret service operators, who give a tell-all expose of some of the most notorious operations in the West Bank and Gaza. “5 Broken Cameras,” released in the U.S. earlier this year by Kino-Lorber, follows a Palestinian man documenting the peaceful resistance of his Arab village in the West Bank (protesting illegal expansions of territories and land confiscation), and the not so peaceful reactions of the Israeli military.
With “Footnote” the fourth Israeli film in five years to make it to the shortlist nomination for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film Israel’s recent cinematic prowess is indisputable. Though none of Israel’s total of ten nominations actually won an Oscar there have been many more excellent films to come out of that country and we asked two experts to give us their list of favorites of recent years.
Sony Pictures Classics (SPC) is one of the leading distributors of foreign and art-house films in America. This year they have three of the five films nominated at the Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language film category and chances are SPC is representing the winner. Yet, the only film of the three SPC nominees to get a significant public run is “A Separation.”
Isaac Zablocki is the director of film programs at The JCC in Manhattan.