“This has been an exceptional year in terms of quantity and quality,” said Ilana Sharon, director of the Israeli Film and Television Academy as she announced the finalists for the Ophir Award competition today. 25 features and 42 documentaries were screened in this year’s competition – a record number. The five finalists for both Best Film and Best Director are:
Ajami, directed by Yaron Shani and Scandar Copti
A Matter of Size, directed by Sharon Maymon and Erez Tadmor
Lebanon, directed by Samuel Maoz
The Loners, directed by Renen Schorr
Those Were the Nights, directed by Roni Ninio
The winner usually represents Israel in the American Academy Awards best foreign film category, notable exceptions have been “Waltz with Bashir” and “The Band’s Visit.” Once the finalists have been selected in each of the 14 categories, they will be screened once more for the academy members and the results of the final vote will be announced in September 2009. All five films nominated this year for “Best Film” received the support of the Israel Film Fund.
Nominated for Best Actor are: Sasha Agronov for “The Loners”, Dror Keren for “Five Hours from Paris,” Yoav Donat for “Lebanon”, Izik Cohen for “A Matter of Size” and Ofer Schecter for “Phobidilia.” Best Actress nominations went to: Ethel Kobinska for “Valentina’s Mother,” Rita Zohar for “Mrs. Moscovitz and the Cats”, Irit Kaplan for “A Matter of Size”, Raymonde Amsalem for “7 Minutes in Heaven” and Dana Ivgy received two nominations for her performances in both “Jaffa” and “Those Were the Nights.”
“A Matter of Size” received the most nominations (13), followed by “The Loners” (11) and “Lebanon” (10). Assi Dayan – actor, writer and director – who has won 7 Ophir awards, will receive a lifetime achievement award from the academy. During the month of August, the nominated films will be screened in Israeli cinematheques in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa and Sderot, enabling the local audience to become acquainted with the films prior to their commercial release.