Oscar controversy

Wow, a real Oscar controversy... not just a bitchy comment about an abominable dress but a real live conflict on a global political scale...

It surrounds the fact that Paradise Now, nominated for Best Foreign Language film, was initially listed by the Academy as being "Palestinian."

As with many films these days (as well as cars, blenders, computers and even some food) PN is of mixed provenance. Gabriel writes: "[PN has] an Israeli Arab director, Israeli actors, a Palestinian crew and locations, a Jewish Israeli producer, and private European funding."

But two separate campaigns have been launched regarding the film's nomination, both with dubious merits:


First, Carpetbagger brough to light the anonymous petition demanding that the Academy withdraw the film's nomination because "glorifies" terrorism. (It most certainly does not.) On a separate front, the state of Israel and U.S. Jewish groups have made a formal request to the Academy to change the name of "Palestine" during their March 5th broadcast to "Palestinian Authority"...because, of course, if Hollywood even says the word 'Palestine', Israel will melt into a pool of butterscotch Jell-O.
The real issue here is that in a globalized world it's becoming increasingly difficult to tease out the provenance of anything. We've long sought to compartmentalize projects and products (see Olympic games...) but the fact of the matter is, borders are a fabrication -- and perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in cinema. Just take a look at the nations, municipalities, production companies and ethnic diversity represented by any film with a modest budget. This is about the symbolic recognition of a nation of Palestine, pure and simple.

For Israeli officials and Jewish groups to claim that because there's no formal nation, they couldn't possibly have a cinema is disingenuous. It's as though I annexed your house and claimed that because I'd taken it, the Better Homes and Gardens cover story is about my house. It's a rough analogy but you get the picture.

Gabriel has a nicer take: "This is an example of how Palestinians and Jews can work TOGETHER, instead of blowing their tiny shared square of desert to smithereens over useless prejudices." (ModernFabulousity)

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