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Golden Times for 'Beaufort'?

January 24, 2008 By:
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Joseph Cedar

Will Oscar be making aliyah next month?

When "Beaufort" bagged an Oscar nod for best foreign film at Tuesday morning's announcements, it placed the land of the Red Sea smack in the middle of the red carpet, to be rolled out -- or rolled in, depending on the writers' strike -- for the Feb. 24 event in Hollywood.

What a perfect Kodak Theater moment for Israel, nabbing its seventh Academy Award nod in the category, going back to "Sallah" 44 years ago.

Of war and a piece of history: A war and warrior movie set in the final days of Israel's involvement in Lebanon, ending an 18-year siege in 2000, "Beaufort" seizes the conflict as a catapult to invade the souls of the soldiers caught up in their claustrophobic encounters on a mountaintop of Beaufort Castle.

But this film goes beyond the walls -- Israel's nominee in 1984 -- of a country wailing and wary of its nation's war dead. Cedar of Lebanon: Israeli director Joseph Cedar's compelling tale has captured attention and acclaim both at home and abroad for its broad impact amid the din of "The Band's Visit," Israel's overwhelming favorite for best foreign flick, disqualified from consideration amid much controversy because of a technicality.

Nonetheless, "Beaufort" may be Oscar's beau in just one month -- what a date night for a land aglow with honeys -- albeit some of its competition for attention comes from a genuine article called "The Counterfeiters." Austria's entry in the category takes place during the Holocaust at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where Jews are forced to counterfeit American money to flood the world's currency and cause chaos.

Their obstinance and obstreperous behavior even under direct threat of death provides real close-up encounters with bravery and bravado in this, Austria's second-ever movie to gain a nod.

But it is "Beaufort" serving as fortress of Israeli pride this year at the awards gala. Whatever happens Feb. 24, "Beaufort" won't be going home bereft. It already has a handful of Israeli honors, Oscar equivalents, and Berlin Film Festival accolades in its bag of goodies -- the kind of swag so much sweeter than anything snagged at the Oscar's gift booths and boutiques this year.

But, then again, getting a golden statue wouldn't hurt. 

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