Israeli documentary on West Bank legal system wins prestigious Sundance prize
An Israeli documentary film won the best foreign documentary category in the prestigious Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, hardly a week after an Israeli feature film was named as an Academy Award nominee.
The film, The Law in These Parts (Shilton Ha Chok), was directed by Israeli Ra'anan Alexandrowicz, and is comprised of a series of interviews with former Israel Defense Forces legal officials in charge of the army's judicial system in the West Bank.Speaking of his win of the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize in Documentary, Alexandrowicz said that The Law in These Parts was "the hardest film I've made," thanking Sundance's documentary program.
"This is an amazing moment for me as a filmmaker, but it's a film about a painful and unresolved subject. What you find out in the film, and in other films in this festival, is that upholding law doesn't always lead to justice. It can even be used as a tool against certain segments of society. We have to oppose them, and if necessary we have to break them," Alexandrowicz said.
The Law in These Parts was also a winner of the 2011 Jerusalem Film Festival's documentary prize.
Also a winner at the Colorado festival was Five Broken Cameras, a joint Palestinian, Israeli, and French production which was directed by activist Emad Burnat, a leader of Palestinian non-violent resistance near the West Bank town of Bil'in.
"I can't believe I'm standing here," Burnat said after his documentary won the World Cinema Documentary Directing Award, adding that the "film was a gift from the beginning. It was a gift for me to go to this village building where I spent many years."
News of the two wins came mere days after it was announced last week that the Israeli film "Footnote" has been nominated for an Oscar award in the Best Foreign Language Film category.
"Footnote" was directed by Joseph Cedar, who also directed "Beaufort", which was nominated in the same category in 2008.
"Footnote" deals with the rivalry between a father and son, both Talmud scholars at Hebrew University. The movie stars Shlomo Bar'aba, Lior Ashkenazi and Alma Zack.
Other films nominated in the category are: "A Separation" (Iran), "Bullhead" (Belgium), "Monsieur Lazhar" (Canada), and "In Darkness" (Poland).
Winners of the 84th annual Oscars will be announced at a Feb. 26 ceremony at Hollywood's Kodak Theatre.