They kind of knew it wasn’t happening. In pre-Oscar television interviews, actors Shlomo Bar-Aba and Lior Ashkenazi, who play a a father and son professors in the Department of Talmud at the Hebrew University in the Oscar nominated “Footnote” – which last night became the tenth Israeli nominee that didn’t get the big prize, were telling anyone who would listen that it was definitely going to be Iran this year.
And they were right. The Hollywood elite which decides these things gave the nod to Iran’s “A Separation,” from what we hear a fantastic family drama, and Director Asghar Farhadi has taken home the Oscar for best foreign language film.
Gold statue inhand, Farhadi dedicated the award to Iranians “who despise hostility and resentment,” and referred to current tension between Tehran and the West, as the film bested movies from Belgium, Poland, Canada, and, how sweet – Israel.
You say we’re sore losers? You bet your poopik we are. Because we could easily envision “Footnote” director (and observant Jew, for heaven’s sake) Joseph Cedar saying enlightened stuff like: “At the time when talk of war, intimidation and aggression is exchanged between politicians, the name of Iran (Cedar would insert ‘Israel’) is spoken here through her glorious culture, her rich and ancient culture that has been hidden under the heavy dust of politics.” But noooo, it had to be some other guy, as it has been nine times before.
Let’s face it, Israel just can’t bring home the golden boychik. I blame the Jews of Hollywood, whose notion of bon ton always skips the Israeli candidate. For crying out loud, we thought for sure Waltz with Bashir, Ari Folman’s 2008 animated nominee, with its warrior’s angst and perplexing memories of bloodshed and mayhem, would capture that segment of Hollywood that wants to put Israel in its place. Nada. Even Ajami, the 2009 nominee by Palestinian Scandar Copti and Jewish Yaron Shani, about an Arab neighborhood in Jaffa – didn’t win.
And for Joseph Cedar, this is the second blow delivered by Hollywood, after his 2007 “Beaufort” also made it to the final five only to be deprived of the gold.
They win Cannes, they win Berlin, they win Toronto, but when it comes to Hollywood, it’s always going to be the Iranian guy. Nothing we can do about it, might as well just go up and shake the winner’s hand nicely and congratulate him.
Except we can’t do that, either. Because last time Joseph Cedar showed up for a photo op that was arranged for him and Asghar Farhadi, the nice, culturally rich Iranian guy was a no show.
Why do we even bother?