In an unprecedented achievement for the Israeli film industry, two of the five documentary features nominated for Academy Awards this year are Israeli submissions: “The Gatekeepers,” which features candid interviews with retired Israeli spymasters, and “5 Broken Cameras,” which tells the personal story of amateur Palestinian cameraman Emad Burnat, who documents clashes between his fellow villagers and Israeli soldiers.
The 85th Academy Awards will be held in Los Angeles on Feb. 24.
While Israeli submissions have become a near fixture in the foreign film category of the Academy Awards (“Beaufort,” “Waltz with Bashir,” “Ajami,” “Footnote”), this year will be the first time since 1975 that an Israeli documentary is up for the prestigious award. Thirty-eight years ago it was “The 81st Blow”—the first film in the Israeli Holocaust Trilogy—that was nominated for the prize in the documentary feature category, but it did not win. Needless to say, this is the first time that two Israeli films are competing for the same Oscar.
“This is an extremely emotional moment for me,” Dror Moreh, “The Gatekeepers” director, said Thursday following the announcement. “I never dreamed that this journey, which began four years ago, would turn in to a movie that would compete for an American Oscar. It is an enormous honor. Every person in the film industry dreams of getting this news.”