‘Cinema Sabaya’ Is Israel’s Oscar Nominee After Winning Ophir Awards

The film “Cinema Sabaya” won the Ophir Awards ceremony on Sunday night, winning Best Picture, automatically making it Israel’s selection to be considered a foreign film nominee for the 2023 Oscars in the United States.

The film, starring Dana Ivgy, tells the story of Arab and Jewish municipal workers who take part in a video workshop and challenge their own beliefs to get to know each other. It also won Best Director for newcomer Orit Fouks Rotem, Best Supporting Actress for Joanna Sayid, Best Costume Design and Best Cast.

“This is yours as much as mine,” said director Fouks Rotem, adding that she worked on the film for eight years. “It’s about looking at yourself and looking at others. When you look with curiosity, it’s much easier to see something else.

The film “Karaoke,” about a middle-aged couple in Holon who get to know their neighbor (Lior Ashkenazi) through their karaoke nights, won Best Actor and Best Actress for stars Sasson Gabbay and Rita Shukrun. The film also won Best Soundtrack.

Gabbay, 74, winning his second Ophir Award in a long and storied film career, thanked his fellow actors in the ensemble film and called Ashkenazi a “magician” of acting.

Another big winner of the night was “Savoy”, for Best Makeup, Art Direction and Editing.

The feature-length hybrid documentary from filmmaker Zohar Wagner, also starring Dana Ivgy, tells the story of the 1975 terrorist attack at the Savoy Hotel that resulted in the deaths of eight civilians, three IDF soldiers and seven of the eight terrorists.

When Culture Minister Chili Tropper presented the Lifetime Award to director Lena Chaplin, now 88, he took the opportunity to speak about the role of politics in cinema – in reference to the recent hubbub over the new pro-settler fund Shomron Film, and a highly controversial call to hold a future Ophir Awards ceremony in Jewish settlements beyond the Green Line.

Tropper called on filmmakers to “make political films, but not make politics off the back of films”.

“I love cinema and creative freedom and I love Israel,” he said. “Criticize Israel, but also do it out of love. Israeli society is strong enough to accept criticism.

The Israel Film Academy has stepped up its production of the Ophir Awards this year, with the Israeli Oscars very close.

The event was hosted by actor Oz Zahavi and held in Tel Aviv for the first time in many years, but with a relatively small audience, with some attendees in jeans and t-shirts and others in dresses and suits.

Also up for Best Awards, ‘Valeria Is Getting Married’ won Best Screenplay for its story of two Ukrainian sisters, one who married an Israeli and the other who is about to make same.

Filmmaker Shlomi Elkabetz won the prize for his documentary ‘Black Notebooks’, a love letter to his sister, late actress and director Ronit Elkabetz, while ‘The Artist’s Daughter, Oil on Canvas’ also took home the prize in the documentary category.

The full ceremony will be replayed on Keshet at 11:15 p.m. on Sunday, September 18.

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