Did a Forward story influence Jean-Luc Godard’s decision to cancel a trip to accept an honorary Oscar?
After the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced it would bestow a lifetime achievement award on the idiosyncratic French-born, Swiss-based filmmaker, the Forward’s Benjamin Ivry laid out Godard’s history of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel statements in “Are They Giving an Oscar to an AntiSemite?” published October 8. Most famously, Ivry noted, Godard has called Israel “a cancer on the map of the Middle East” and compared Palestinian suicide bombers to Jews in the Holocaust who sacrificed “themselves to bring into existence the State of Israel.”
Ivry’s page-one article sparked a firestorm in the blogosphere and media across the world, and organizations including the Zionist Organization of America forcefully condemned the Academy’s decision. Still, Godard had apparently planned to accept the award in person on November 13 at the Oscars ceremony in Hollywood — until yesterday.
On Monday, the Academy issued an upbeat statement that tried to paint a happy face on what was clearly becoming an embarrassment. “Following a two-month cordial exchange of correspondence with Academy president Tom Sherak, Jean-Luc Godard has regretfully notified Sherak that he will not be able to attend the [award dinner],” the statement opened. “‘He reiterated his thanks for the award,’ reported Sherak, ‘and also sent his good wishes to the other individuals being honored the same night — Kevin Brownlow, Francis Ford Coppola and Eli Wallach — who he refers to as the three other musketeers.’” Wallach, of course, is the legendary 93-year-old Jewish thespian.
As the Forward’s Ivry also reported, two recent books detailed a falling-out between Godard and French director François Truffaut after the former called a Jewish film producer “sale juif” (“dirty Jew”). Truffaut’s father, reportedly, was Jewish.
Incredibly, Godard had also been rumored to be preparing an adaptation of Daniel Mendelsohn’s acclaimed “The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million,” tracing the fate of six Holocaust victims.