Joseph Cedar
Joseph CedarIsrael News photo: PR

Israeli director Joseph Cedar won on Sunday the award for best screenplay at the Cannes film festival.

The film, “Footnote”, stars Israeli actors Lior Ashkenazi and Shlomo Bar Aba in the roles of a father-son pair of Talmudic scholars, Uriel and Eliezer Shkolnik, who have been locked in a decades-long rivalry.

The film received much praise from visitors to the Cannes festival. Cedar, who had already left France when news came that he won the award, was not able to come back in time to participate in the award ceremony and as such did not accept the award himself.

Born in New York, Cedar’s family moved to Israel when he was six years old. After graduating in Philosophy and History of theatre from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem he studied cinema studies at New York University. His debut film, “Time of Favor” (2000), won six Ofir Awards (the Israeli version of the Academy Awards), including Best Picture.

His second film was “Campfire” (2004), which won five Ofir Awards. His third film, “Beaufort” (2007), received the Silver Bear award for Best Director in the Berlin International Film Festival. “Beaufort” also received an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, the first such nomination for an Israeli film in 24 years.

When “Footnote” was screened at Cannes last week, it had been scheduled for the Sabbath. The dozens of photographers and hundreds of people on the invitation list who had come to watch the movie had to wait until after the Sabbath because Cedar, who is an observant Jew, does not work and drive on the holy day.

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.

The film was produced in Jerusalem, and Mayor Nir Barkat congratulated on Sunday the film’s production team as well as Cedar for their win at Cannes.

“Jerusalem is on the international map and continues to glorify movie screens worldwide,” said Barkat. “The film venture we established with the Jerusalem Development Authority and the Israeli government supported the movie 'Footnote' with a sum of a million dollars, and we will continue to assist artists and producers to shoot films and television series in Jerusalem. We are proud of the producers and congratulate them for the great honor which they have brought to Jerusalem and Israel.”