Israel’s Oscar hopeful ‘Foxtrot’ slams West Bank occupation

Author: APSun, 2017-10-29 03:00ID: 1509214031058848700JERUSALEM: Israel’s contender for this year’s foreign-language Oscar has swept local film awards and scored high honors at the Venice Film Festival.But before it even hit the silver screen at home, Samuel Maoz’s “Foxtrot,” a drama exploring Israel’s West Bank occupation and the modern Israeli psyche, has found itself caught in the crossfire of a raging culture war.Culture Minister Miri Regev’s beef with Foxtrot is part of her ongoing battle with artists perceived as being critical of the Israeli government. Since taking office in 2015, Regev has moved to cut government funding to theaters and artists deemed disloyal to the state and troupes that refuse to perform in West Bank settlements.Though Foxtrot never mentions Palestinians by name, and the people stopped by the soldiers at a remote checkpoint never utter a word, the film obliquely criticizes Israel’s occupation of the West Bank as unjust, futile and morally corrupting.The soldiers’ shipping container barracks is gradually sinking in the mud, a metaphor for the country as a whole.“We’re tilting,” one soldier says after rolling a can of processed meat to gauge the barracks’ angle. “If we’re tilting then eventually we’ll turn over and sink. When it happens it’ll happen suddenly. I don’t know if I’ll have enough time to say ‘I told you so,’ so I’m telling you now.”Shortly after its Venice award, Regev — a former army spokeswoman and military censor — appeared in television interviews railing against Foxtrot, while admitting she had not actually seen it.She wrote on Facebook that she was “ashamed” that the Israeli film academy celebrated Foxtrot, “a film that chose to slander the Israel Defense Forces.”The scene that apparently raised Regev’s hackles shows Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint accidentally killing a carful of innocent civilians, and the army’s subsequent cover-up of the incident in the most literal fashion — with a bulldozer.Maoz dismissed Regev’s criticism in an interview with the Hebrew daily Haaretz, saying the scene was allegorical and meant to show how Israeli society “prefers to bury the truth in the mud we created, instead of dealing with it and asking ourselves piercing questions.”Foxtrot is slated for a limited release in the United States on March 2, two days before the Academy Awards ceremony.
Main category: Offbeat

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