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Culture Min. 'Saddened' by 'Ajami' Director's Anti-Israel Remark

Arab co-director of the film 'Ajami' told Channel 2 that the Israeli-funded Oscar nominee 'is not Israeli and does not represent Israel'.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 3/7/2010, 12:40 PM / Last Update: 3/7/2010, 1:28 PM

Ajami PR

Minister of Culture Limor Livnat said Sunday that she was “saddened” by the comments of Skandar Copti, the Arab co-director of the film 'Ajami', which is a candidate for receiving the Academy Award ('Oscar') for best foreign film on Sunday night. The making of the film was made possible through state funding.

Copti said that the film's designation as “Israeli” is a “technical” matter: “The money came from Israel so they write Israel, but I cannot represent a country that does not represent me... I do not represent Israel,” he told Channel 2 TV news.

The film shows scenes from the life of Arab residents of Yafo (Jaffa) and their confrontations with the Israel police. Copti's co-director was a Jew. 

In the Name of Pluralism
“The film Ajami was produced and reached an Academy Award nomination thanks to the funds of the State of Israel, from which Skandar Copti is now trying to dissociate himself,” Livnat stated.

"Without the state's support, Copti would not be treading the red carpet tonight,” Livnat added. “In the name of artistic freedom and pluralism, the film was budgeted with over NIS 2 million. It is sad that a director sponsored by the state is dissociating himself from those who allowed him to create and express himself. I am happy to say that all the other people who were partners to making the film see themselves as a part of the State of Israel and are proud to represent it at the Oscar ceremony as ambassadors of free cultural creativity.”

Science Minister Daniel Hershkowitz said earlier that conceivably, "The person who directed the film with the aid of Israeli funding could wrap himself in Hamas flags this evening.”

“If the film does win an Oscar it could turn out to be a Pyrrhic victory for Israel,” he added.

This is the ninth time an Israeli film is nominated for an Oscar award. No Israeli film has yet won the coveted prize.