February 22, 2011
This is not Israel’s year in the Oscar races
“The Human Resources Manager” struck out early in the best foreign-language film competition, while the documentary feature “Precious Life” was short-listed among the 15 semi-finalists but didn’t make the final five cut.
However, still in the running is “Strangers No More” in the documentary short category.
Directed by American filmmakers Kirk Simon and Karen Goodman, the film is set in the Bialik-Rogozin School in an impoverished, crime-ridden section of south Tel Aviv.
The school educates, and integrates, some 750 students from 48 countries, including Sudan, The Philippines, Ukraine, and points in between, many the children of foreign workers.
In barely 40 minutes, the doc takes a loving look at the difficulties and triumphs of the school and its passionately involved teachers, among whose supporters are the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and the locally based Jewish World Watch.
A bloodier side of the Middle East is shown in “Killing in the Name,” in which a Jordanian wedding party is decimated by an Al Qaeda suicide bomber.
Among the dead are the groom’s father and 26 other relatives. The grief-stricken groom, Ashraf, decides to break the Muslim world’s silence on terrorism by starting a “de-radicalization” project, during which we meet an Al Qaeda recruiter and young boys in madrassa school training for jihad.
Jed Rothstein produced and directed the film.
Others in the running are “Poster Girl” by Sara Nesson, in which a gung-ho American woman soldier is traumatized by her experiences in Iraq.
In “The Warriors of Quigang” Chinese villagers battle bureaucrats to remove a poisonous chemical plant, while in “Sun Comes Up,” South Pacific islanders search for a new habitat when their tiny island is threatened by a rising ocean due to climate change.