The Israeli film “Ajami” has made the first cut in the Oscar race by being named among nine semi-finalists in the foreign-language film category.
The nine movies were selected from among 65 entries and will be winnowed down to five when all Oscar nominations are announced Feb. 2.
“Ajami” paints an unsparing picture of Arab-Jewish and intra-Arab tensions in a mixed quarter of Jaffa. Its co-directors are two young Israelis, Scandar Copti, a Christian Arab, and the Jewish Yaron Shani.
Also picked was Germany’s “The White Ribbon,” which has gotten the most buzz and won the Golden Globes pick for best foreign movie. The film by Michael Haneke is set in a rustic German village around 1914, whose seemingly placid life holds the seeds for the Nazi flowering to come.
Other semi-finalists are:
Argentina, “El Secreto de Sus Ojos.”
Australia, “Samson and Delilah.”
Bulgaria, “The World Is Big and Salvation Lurks Around the Corner.”
France, “A Prophet.”
The Netherlands, “Winter in Wartime,” in which a Dutch boy aids a downed British pilot during World War II.
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