Foxtrot, a 2017 Israeli drama film written and directed by Samuel Maoz (Lebanon, Total Eclipse), has made it to the shortlist of nine candidates (out of 92) in the Academy Awards’ Best Foreign Language Film category this year. The final five Oscar nominations in the race will be announced along with the rest of the categories on January 23.
Foxtrot won the Grand Jury Prize Silver Lion at the 74th Venice International Film Festival, and was screened in the Special Presentations section at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. It has also won the Israeli film industry’s Ophir Award for Best Film.
Foxtrot film opens with an affluent Tel Aviv couple learning that their son, an IDF soldier,
has died in the line of duty. The film follows the parents in the hours after they learn of his death, then depicts the son’s experiences as one of four soldiers manning a checkpoint. The film then returns to the parents six months after their loss.
The film was denounced by Israel’s Minister of Culture and Sports Miri Regev (Likud), who referred to it as “the result of self-flagellation and cooperation with the anti-Israel narrative.” The lead actor, Lior Ashkenazi, noted that “Israel isn’t mentioned in the film, and there’s no mention of the IDF either. But Miri Regev doesn’t know that because she won’t see the film.” Regev then suggested it was “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.”
The film received a rare 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Here are a few readers’ reviews:
Brian Tallerico: “A formally gorgeous piece of work, the kind of film that exudes confidence in structure and tone, and it contains some of the most striking, memorable imagery of the year.”
Chris Barsanti: “Samuel Maoz’s philosophical black comedy is a triptych of surrealism laced with insights about warfare and grief that are both timeless and timely.”
A.A. Dowd: “Heavy with horror though it may be, Foxtrot turns out to be too conceptually and stylistically audacious to be called a slog; it keeps throwing curveballs, some crueler than others.”
Elizabeth Weitzman: “The combination of straightforward realism, deadpan surrealism, historical horror and domestic tragedy is harrowingly impactful. It’s as if Maoz realized that a single, sustained tone couldn’t possibly do justice to the vastness of the subject.”
Here’s the complete shortlist for the Oscar foreign picks (to be trimmed down to five come January):
- Israel, Foxtrot, Samuel Maoz, director
- Lebanon, The Insult, Ziad Doueiri, dirctor
- Chile, A Fantastic Woman, Sebastián Lelio, director
- Germany, In the Fade, Fatih Akin, director
- Hungary, On Body and Soul, Ildikó Enyedi, director
- Russia, Loveless, Andrey Zvyagintsev, director
- Senegal, Félicité, Alain Gomis, director
- South Africa, The Wound, John Trengove, director
- Sweden, The Square, Ruben Östlund, director