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Sabbath Observance a Big Winner at Cannes Film Festival

Israel-born film-maker Yosef (Joseph) Cedar proved at Cannes that a good movie can wait until after the Sabbath, the Jewish Day of Rest.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 5/17/2011, 8:20 AM / Last Update: 5/17/2011, 8:29 AM

Cannes

Israel-born film-maker Yosef (Joseph) Cedar proved at Cannes that a good movie can wait until after the Sabbath, the Jewish Day of Rest.

Dozens of photographers and hundreds of people on the invitation list waited on the Sabbath for the screening of his “Footnote” movie at the Cannes Film Festival – but they had to wait until after Sabbath because Cedar observes the Jewish laws that prohibit work and driving on the holy day.

Jewish professionals around the world often face the challenge of living according to Jewish law, even if it means giving up playing in a baseball game on a Jewish holiday or participating in other events.

Cedar’s decision to stick with his Judaism did not cost him any detractors. When the film was finally screened when he showed up after the Sabbath ended, he won applause for "Footnote", which Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan called “a serious farce with significant issues on its mind, a film that invites both laughter and reflection.”

Cedar’s movie is about two rival Talmudic scholars. Cedar explained to Turan, "When you see a Chinese film, you often feel it is rooted in some kind of ancient Chinese tradition. The Talmud is our primary text, our tradition. It's something I want to deal with if I am making movies in Israel."

Cedar moved from Israel to New York at the age of six. His father Chaim was born in the United States and now teaches at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He has won the Israel Prize in biology.