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Israeli Anti-War Movie Wins Venice Film Prize, Criticized By Culture Minister

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Israeli film “Foxtrot” won the Silver Lion grand jury prize at the Venice Film Festival.

The film is the second Venice prize for director Samuel Maoz, who won the top prize, the Golden Lion, in 2009 for his film “Lebanon.”

Following the announcement of the prize on Saturday, Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev attacked the film, saying that “the international hug comes from self-flagellation and cooperation with the anti-Israeli narrative.”

A final scene in the film shows Israeli soldiers killing and then burying an Arab family.

In a statement issued Saturday night by her office, Regev said: “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 form of art.”

Maoz said his criticism of Israel is because he loves his country. “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 in Venice after claiming his prize.

In a meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday with a delegation of Hollywood producers and executives, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said that he had not yet seen the film but planned to.

“I did not watch the film but I’m going to watch it, I do not know if I will like it, but I will watch it as I try to watch every Israeli film,” Rivlin told the Hollywood visitors, according to a statement issued by his office.

“In general, I am a great fan of Israeli cinema, which is a symbol of freedom of expression and the strength of Israeli democracy,” he added.

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