The two Israeli films that were nominated for the best documentary Oscar at Sunday’s Academy Awards failed to win the award. The winning film was the Swedish/British “Searching for Sugar Man” by Malik Bendjelloul.
The two films are "The Gatekeepers" by director Dror Moreh and "Five Broken Cameras" by PA Arab filmmaker Emad Burnat and Israeli filmmaker Guy Davidi.
"Gatekeepers" features six former leaders of the Israeli Security Agency (Shin Bet) who shed some light about the ISA's activities and the dilemmas which accompany them.
One of the former Shin Bet leaders featured in the film is Yuval Diskin, whose remarks in the film, as published by the Yediot Aharonot newspaper, caused a media storm in Israel.
Diskin lashed out at Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the film, portraying him as weak, out of touch, and a danger to Israel’s security.
Moreh later caused some controversy of his own when he slammed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in an interview on CNN, claiming that the Prime Minister was personally responsible in part for the death of Yitzchak Rabin.
“There were many incidents of incitement against Rabin who was Prime Minister” in 1995 when he was killed by Yigal Amir, Moreh claimed.
“Binyamin Netanyahu had a role in many of those incidents. Netanyahu made a speech in which a protester carried a coffin for Rabin, and I am sure he saw it. I am convinced he did. He was not naïve, and he knew what was going on in these rallies that he led. They called Rabin a Nazi collaborator.”
The creators of “Five Broken Cameras” also caused outrage in Israel. Co-creator Davidi said the film is only “technically” Israeli and denied that he represents Israel.
“I do not represent Israel, only myself,” Davidi said. “It’s a joint Israel-Palestinian movie,” he added.
The film depicts a resident of the Palestinian Authority town of Bil'in as he attempts to document clashes between local Arabs, together with Israeli and foreign far-left activists, and the IDF and police.
The PA Arab director of the film, Burnat, also insisted the film was not Israeli, even threatening not to take part in the Academy Awards ceremony if the film is presented as an Israeli film and not as a “Palestinian” film.
Last week Burnat was detained for over an hour at an airport in Los Angeles. He was later released.
Israeli victims of terrorism, including parents of Israeli children slain in terrorist attacks, had written to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences asking members to reconsider the Oscar nomination for Five Broken Cameras, which they described as “a film meant to incite, that demonizes the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces and contains anti-Semitic elements.”