‘Ajami’ director: I don’t represent Israel
‘I cannot represent a state that does not represent me,’ Scandar Copti says just hours before Academy Awards ceremony
“Ajami” co-director Scandar Copti said Sunday that he is not representing Israel at the Academy Awards ceremony in Hollywood, just hours before his film competes in the best foreign film category.
“I am not the Israeli team and I am not representing Israel,” Copti told Channel 2. “It’s a very technical thing. This is how it works at the Oscars. It says Israel because the money comes from Israel. You have an Israeli director, you have a Palestinian director, you have Palestinian actors and Israeli actors.
“The film represents Israel technically, but I don’t represent Israel. I cannot represent a country that does not represent me.”
Yaron Shani, the film’s other co-director, does not agree with Copti. “It’s an Israeli film. It represents Israel, it speaks in the Israeli language and it deals with Israeli problems. The representation question refers to problems of perspectives and political problems which need to be solved,” Shani said in the same interview.
Following the remarks, Science and Technology Minister Daniel Herkowitz (Habayit Hayehudi) called on Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat to launch an inquiry into the film’s funding by the State of Israel.
“The person who directed the film with Israeli funding may cover himself with Hamas flags tonight. If the film wins an Oscar, this may be a Pyrrhic victory for the State of Israel,” the minister said.
In response to Copti’s remairs, Minister Livnat said, “The film ‘Ajami’ was produced and received an Oscar nomination thanks to funds from the State of Israel, which Scandar Copti now tries to renounce. Without the State’s support, Copti would not be walking on the red carpet tonight.”
She added, “It’s sad that a director who was supported by the State is renouncing those that made it possible for him to create and express himself. Fortunately, all the others who had a part in the film’s creation consider themselves part of the State of Israel and are proud to represent it.”
The film’s directors and stars attended several Hollywood events over the weekend ahead of Sunday night’s ceremony. Copti told Ynet earlier that winning was not the most important thing for him.
“It would be nice to get the prize, but we don’t need it. It’s not a must,” he said.
“Ajami” will be competing in the best foreign-language film category against “El Secreto de Sus Ojos” from Argentina, “The Milk of Sorrow” from Peru, “Un Prophete” from France, and “The White Ribbon” from Germany. It is the ninth Israeli movie to be nominated for an Oscar in this category.
Roni Sofer contributed to this report