An Israeli film claimed the Silver Lion Grand Jury Prize at the Venice International Film Festival on Saturday, finishing second to Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape Of Water but prompted a fierce response by Culture Minister Miri Regev, who called the movie “libelous” and “anti-Israel.”
Foxtrot, directed by Shmulik Maoz, focuses on the parents of an Israeli soldier who have been notified that their son was killed at a remote military outpost. The movie has sparked controversy in Israel for depicting Israeli soldiers mistakenly killing four Palestinians after a soldier thought he saw one of them holding a hand grenade, followed by a cover up of the incident by his fellow soldiers.
Regev has called the film a “disgrace” and said it is inconceivable that movies that blacken the reputation of the IDF are supported by the Israel Film Fund, which is supported by the state. And those are the films that are selected to showcase Israeli cinema abroad.”
“When an Israeli film wins an international award, my heart fills with pride and the natural urge to strengthen and encourage the Israeli success. The exception to this rule is when international acclaim is received as a result of self-flagellation and cooperation with the anti-Israel narrative. The award that ‘Foxtrot’ won is part of this exception and scenes such as the one where Israeli soldiers kill a Palestinian family and cover it up are libelous and did not take place in the IDF which I have served in for over 25 years.״
In the past Regev has said she would cut funding for films like Foxtrot, but both Maoz and the film’s lead actor, Lior Ashkenazi have defended the film and dismissed the minister’s comments.
“I will not respond to the empty accusations of someone who has not watched the movie,” said Maoz.
Despite the controversy, “Culturebuzz – Israel,” an official social media account run by Israel’s Foreign Ministry has congratulated the film for being nominated, along with promoting it on both their Facebook and Twitter accounts.