The Shmooze

Behind the Scenes: 'Footnote' Pre-Oscar Party

By Rex Weiner

  • Print
  • Share Share
Rex Weiner
Joseph Cedar

Israeli-born producer Avi Lerner can’t compare the film “Footnote” to the blockbusters that he produces. “It’s a different movie,” he said of the Israeli film, which is nominated for an Academy Award in Best Foreign Language Film category. Lerner, who has produced big-budget action movies like “The Expendables” and low-budget exploitation flicks like “Crocodile 2: Death Swamp,” was among the 50 guests gathered for a pre-Oscar party for “Footnote” at a private home in Beverly Hills Thursday night.

The comic drama, about a pair of father-and-son Talmudic scholars, snagged Israel its 10th Academy Award nomination in the category and, Lerner hopes, the nation’s first win when Oscars are handed out Sunday night.

Sponsored by the Israeli Consulate and L.A.’s upcoming 26th Israel Film Festival, the festivities were hosted by Shanit Schwartz and her husband, Sam, a talent agent whose stable boasts many of film and TV’s top musical composers. Guests entering the Schwartz’s art-filled villa emerged onto a hilltop with sunset views toward the distant Channel Islands and, just across the way, the $30 million driveway (yes, driveway) that leads to the home of Sam and Shanit’s neighbor, Microsoft mogul Paul Allen.

Undaunted by the Hollywood glitz, “Footnote” writer and director Joseph Cedar told the Forward that he was pleased to be attending his second Academy Award ceremony (his first was for “Beaufort” in 2007), but expressed some anxiety; with two nominations for and four Academy submissions by Israel, perhaps his popularity meant he was not “edgy” enough. Michael Barker, co-president and co-founder of Sony Pictures Classics, the film’s US distributor, assured the filmmaker that frequent nominations were a good thing, pointing as an example to Woody Allen, a 23-time nominee (and three-time Oscar winner) in various categories. Cedar perked up when he learned that Allen was going to screen “Footnote” privately before the film’s March 9 opening in New York.

Sony Pictures Classics, which over the years has won 11 Best Foreign Language Film Oscars, is also pushing two other nominees vying with Footnote in the category, including the Iranian entry, “A Separation,” and “In Darkness,” a Polish film about the Holocaust. Barker told the Forward that he believes that “Footnote” has “crossover potential” and that Sony’s aggressive publicity campaign and screening schedule on both coasts for Academy members is a post-Awards release strategy aimed not only at winning the Oscar, but at maximizing the film’s appeal to mainstream audiences.

Also on hand were Meir Fenigstein, director of the Israel Film Festival; Consul General David Siegel, who has seen the film twice; the film’s producers David Mandil, Moshe Edery and Leon Edery; and Footnote star Shlomo Bar-Aba. Said Siegel, “Whatever is in that envelope Sunday night, Israel has already won.” Bar-Aba, who captured the Israel Film & TV Academy’s Ophir Award for Best Actor for his role as Eliezer Shkolnik, the elder Talmudic scholar in the picture, summed up the whole thing in Hebrew slang, “It’s a sha’arruriya,” scandalously too good to be true.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: The Expendables, Shlomo Bar-Aba, Shanit Schwartz, Sam Schwartz, Moshe Edery, Oscars, Paul Allen, Meir Fenigstein, Leon Edery, Joseph Cedar, Footnote, David Mandil, Crocodile 2, Avi Lerner, Academy Awards

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.