January 5, 2011
Holocaust era ignored by 2011 Oscar contenders
(Page 2 - Previous Page)
Directed by newsman Shlomi Eldar, the camera follows a 1-year old “bubble baby” in Gaza who was born with a severe autoimmune deficiency and can only be saved by a matching bone marrow transplant at an Israeli hospital.
While the fighting rages in Gaza, Eldar manages to get the boy to Tel Hashomer hospital, receives a $55,000 donation from an anonymous Israeli to cover medical expenses, and stands by Raida, the boy’s mother, during her ordeal.
What would be a heartwarming tale of generosity and friendship across the Israeli-Palestinian divide gets an ominous twist when Raida expresses the hope that if her son survives, she hopes that he will grow up to be a “martyr” and help “liberate” Jerusalem.
The humanistic side of the Jewish state gets another uplift in “Strangers No More,” which has been included among the eight finalists in the documentary short subjects category.
Directed by American filmmakers Kirk Simon and Karen Goodman, the film is set in the Bialik-Rogozin School in impoverished, crime-ridden south Tel Aviv.
The school educates, and integrates, students from 48 countries, including Sudan, the Philippines, Ukraine and points in between, many the children of foreign workers.
In barely 40 minutes, the documentary takes a loving look at the difficulties and triumphs of the school and its devoted teachers, among whose supporters are The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and the locally based Jewish World Watch.
At the Oscar nominations on Jan. 25 and the glamour-drenched awards ceremony on Feb. 27, Jewish talent is expected to be in strong contention among best picture, actor and director hopefuls, and in some unexpected places among foreign filmmakers.
Youthful director Feo Aladag, whose first feature film was chosen as Germany’s Oscar entry, traces her Jewishness through a long line of maternal ancestors. Among them was her great-grandmother, who committed suicide in 1940 after the Nazi takeover of Austria.
The film’s English title is “When We Leave,” although the German title, “Die Fremde,” which can mean either “abroad” or “the foreign woman,” is more meaningful.
At the center of the film is a young Turkish mother working in Germany who is ostracized by her family when she leaves her abusive husband and strikes out independently. The film will open Jan. 28 at Laemmle’s Music Hall in Beverly Hills.
Italy’s entry, “La Prima Cosa Bella” (“The First Beautiful Thing”), a lively family drama, was co-produced by Marco Cohen and Benedetto Habib, two Italian Jews based in Milan.
Habib left his native Tripoli with his parents in 1967, when the Six-Day War triggered riots and pogroms in Libya. During the German occupation of the country in World War II, his father was deported to Bergen-Belsen but survived.
Cohen attended Hebrew school in Milan, which has a mixed community of 7,000 Jews, including many from Lebanon, Libya, Syria and Iran.
He said the first time he visited Los Angeles, he was in shock “to see how many Jews were in Hollywood.”
But back home, his name and religion actually may have been an advantage. When “La Prima Cosa Bella” was picked as his country’s Oscar entry, Cohen said that some colleagues suggested to him, “maybe you’ll have more pull in Hollywood because you’re Jewish.”
1 | 2