Foxtrot Director Samuel Maoz At The 74th Venice Film Festival.

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Eight autumns after his first narrative feature “Lebanon” took the foreign-film world by storm with its frightening intimacy and tank-set claustrophobia, Maoz is back with another compelling film. On Sept. 19 that film, “Foxtrot,” swept the Ophirs, the Israeli equivalent of the Academy Awards, winning eight prizes, including best picture. That means, among other things, that “Foxtrot” will now be the official Israeli entry at this year’s foreign-language Oscars. “Foxtrot” is based on the feeling the director had that school day morning. Winning the Silver Lion award at the Venice Film Festival (compared to “Lebanon’s” Gold Lion prize), it spins from its director’s anxiety a tale of a successful nearly middle-aged couple, the Feldmans, who learn from military attaches that their fresh-out-high-school son was killed while engaged in mandatory military service. What seems for the first half-hour to be a straight-ahead story of parental mourning, a kind of “Ordinary People” by way of the Galilee, soon turns into something stranger and more ambitious. The news is not as simple as it seems, and Maoz follows the action to a remote military roadblock and back to the Tel Aviv bourgeoisie, telling a multigenerational story of victimhood and guilt, of the Holocaust and the Israeli Defense Forces. “Foxtrot” director Samuel Maoz at the 74th Venice Film Festival. “Foxtrot” director Samuel Maoz at the 74th Venice Film Festival. (Domenico Stinellis / AP) She said I’m bad publicity. But there’s nothing better for the Israeli government than to show it’s willing to criticize itself. — Samuel Maoz on criticism by Israel’s culture minister Viewers who remember “Lebanon” will be surprised by the new film’s style. Far from a neo-verite look at the harshness of Middle East War, “Foxtrot’s” scenes are as likely to be shot through with magical realism as gritty realism. The film is laden with slick shot-making and indelible images, as technically dazzling as it is emotionally weighty. “As far as I’m concerned, the movie is a philosophical puzzle,” Maoz said in an interview at the recently concluded Toronto Film Festival, where the drama had its North American premiere. beinsports “It’s the dirty concept, this nature of fate, and the attempt to understand it, to clean it, is what’s interesting to me.” “Foxtrot,” which was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics for distribution in the U.S., is Discover More also a politically charged picture, showing not just the human side of grief but the moral hazards of military occupation — particularly during a scene in which inexperienced Israeli soldiers kill innocent Palestinians in a moment of panic and an Israeli army commander then, very literally, covers up the incident. Even ahead of its release in Israel, the film already has become a hot-button subject thanks to the country’s famously conservative culture minister, Miri Regev, condemning it as a traitorous act. Maoz laughed off the condemnation and said the right-wing government would be better off embracing the movie, which was financed by the government’s official film fund. “She said I’m bad publicity. But there’s nothing better for the Israeli government than to show it’s willing to criticize itself,” Maoz said. “They didn’t play this right. They used check my blog to play chess, and now they’re boxing.” The friction between Israel’s arts community and Benjamin Netanyahu’s conservative government has been sparking for a while; it came to the international fore with a controversial gown Regev wore on the Cannes red carpet this year , depicting the Old City of Jerusalem to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War. Regev was not invited to the Ophirs by Israel’s film academy. For her part, the culture minister has said publicly she will rethink the ways funds are disbursed to artists, leaving open questions on the table about the future sponsorship of films like “Foxtrot,” which have enjoyed a renaissance in recent years. Lior Ashkenazi, center, as the father in Samuel Maoz’s “Foxtrot.” Lior Ashkenazi, center, as the father in Samuel Maoz’s “Foxtrot.” (1996-98 AccuSoft Inc., All right /) For those who have a more practical inquiry of Maoz — where has he been since 2009? — he has an elusive answer.

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