‘Ajami,’ not ‘Lebanon,’ chosen to represent Israel in foreign language race

Posted by · 2:19 pm · September 26th, 2009

Thanks to Anne Thompson for the Twitter heads up here, but Yair Raveh is reporting that the Israeli entry in this year’s Best Foreign Language Film race isn’t the Venice fest’s Golden Lion winner “Lebanon,” but the Ophir-winning crime drama “Ajami.” The foreign submissions page has been updated.  Discuss.




→ 14 Comments Tags: , , | Filed in: Daily

14 responses so far

  • 1 9-26-2009 at 4:54 pm

    The Other James D. said...

    Aw shucks. Well, I suppose they have a reason for submitting this, so…it’s on my list.

  • 2 9-26-2009 at 8:29 pm

    head_wizard said...

    I’m very surprised I thought they could have won with Lebanon.

  • 3 9-26-2009 at 8:31 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    I wonder what the U.S. would have submitted last year if they only could choose one? Probably The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

  • 4 9-26-2009 at 9:55 pm

    slayton said...

    This isn’t surprising, because the Israeli committee voted on this BEFORE Lebanon won the Golden Lion at Venice. Lebanon wouldn’t have been considered the top contender before it won that prize, so a win by Ajami is kind of expected.

  • 5 9-26-2009 at 10:26 pm

    sebastian said...

    and even more – LEBANON has yet to be release to cinemas in israel which makes him eligible for the foreign language competition.

    AJAMI is much better, complex and challenging film (and i really liked lebaon) and i hope the academy will see it.

  • 6 9-27-2009 at 6:01 am

    Joel said...

    If a weak film like Japan’s “Departures” can win the Oscar, then why bother sending something complex and thought-provoking?

  • 7 9-27-2009 at 6:23 am

    sebastian said...

    That’s exactly the point. the foreign language film category somehow misses every year. maybe they got something different with “No Man’s Land” over “Amelie”. but usual the films in this category are flattering and too easy-to-digest. movies that grandmothers goes with thier friends instead of interesting look on world cinema.

  • 8 9-27-2009 at 6:41 am

    A.J said...

    The Lives of Others was a masterpiece. I thoroughly enjoyed Tsotsi even though I don’t think that’s a popular opinion. Waltz with Bashir was highly overrated and The Class was kinda blah.

  • 9 9-27-2009 at 8:53 am

    slayton said...

    It is a growing trend for countries to submit films that are critically received as “conventional”, even when there are far better films by world-renowned auteurs in their pool of options. Sadly, a “safe” film is one that this particular voting body appreciates. That’s why we’re seeing submissions like Mexico’s “Backyard”, the Netherlands’ “The Silent Army”, Taiwan’s “Prince of Tears”, Hungary’s “Chameleon” and China’s “Forever Enthralled” and the fact that Spain is actually considering sending “The Dancer and the Thief”.

    The trouble is that the FL branch of the Academy is pretty xenophobic in their tastes. They won’t accept foreign-language fare unless it is made in the “Western” tradition. A film that is so alien in execution and style to Westerners as, say, “Moolade”, “Happy Together” or “After Life”, will never fly with the FL branch. They want the films that other countries submit to fit the “traditional American mold” – i.e. clearly defined story arcs, a happy or tragic-sentimental ending, and as little narrative ambiguity and avant-garde tricks as possible. Films like “The Class” and “The White Ribbon” were and will be nominated because of their wins at Cannes – if they hadn’t won those awards they probably wouldn’t have even been submitted by their countries, and they most certainly would not have been nominated.

  • 10 9-27-2009 at 9:55 am

    Chad Hartigan said...

    I agree with most of these comments. The nominees in this category are usually the epitome of mediocrity, as are winners like “Nowhere in Africa” and “The Lives of Others”.

  • 11 9-27-2009 at 6:42 pm

    mhf89 said...

    I completely agree with Slayton and Chad, to win this award you must have a simple, and raw. The academy clearly dislikes artistic films that introduce complex story lines and great execution of original ideas: Pan’s Labyrinth, Waltz with Bashir, The Class, Amores Perros, Amelie, Joyeux Noel, Preferring to award mediocre works like The Counterfeiters, Tsotsi, Departures, etc.

  • 12 9-29-2009 at 4:40 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Haven’t seen “Ajami” yet (I will have by the end of the week), but I can say with some confidence that “Lebanon” would have been a long shot for a nomination … and wouldn’t have had a snowball’s chance of winning.

  • 13 9-29-2009 at 10:13 am

    Faux said...

    Today Spanish Academy has just selected Fernando Trueba’s “The Dancer and the Thief” (“El baile de la victoria”) for Spain submission. Trueba is director of Oscar previous winner “Belle Epoque”.

  • 14 9-29-2009 at 1:41 pm

    Brent said...

    Chad, how is The Lives of Others “mediocre” ??