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‘Incitement’ Wins Ophir Award for Best Picture, Becomes Israel’s Oscar Submission

Amy Spiro

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Incitement” was the best-picture winner at Israel’s Ophir Awards on Sunday night, automatically becoming the country’s choice to vie for the international feature film Oscar.

The winning film, a drama about the period leading up to the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish extremist in 1995, had its global premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month. The movie was directed by Yaron Zilberman and co-written by Zilberman and Ron Leshem, creator of the original Israeli TV series “Euphoria” and the Oscar-nominated “Beaufort.”

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Zilberman’s acceptance speech for the best-picture prize was one of the few overtly political moments of the night, coming days after an inconclusive national election in Israel.

“Rabin was a giant of a man who was murdered because of his struggle to bring peace,” said Zilberman. In a jab at Benjamin Netanyahu, who is fighting to remain prime minister, Zilberman said he hoped that, in the wake of the election, “a leader can arise who, instead of dividing and inciting, can unite us and cause us to love one another, raising the level of love and not the level of violence.”

Incitement” beat out “Tel Aviv on Fire,” a comedy about a Palestinian soap opera, which premiered last year at the Venice Film Festival (and picked up the best actor award there for Kais Nashif); “The Unorthodox,” about the founding of the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party in Jerusalem in the 1980s; “Working Woman,” a drama about workplace sexual harassment; and “Love Trilogy: Chained,” a drama about an abrasive police officer, which premiered at this year’s Berlin Film Festival.

“Incitement” picked up only one other award at the Ophirs ceremony, for best casting. The film that took home the most prizes was “The Unorthodox,” with four wins.

The Ophir Awards, Israel’s most prestigious film prizes, were handed out in Kfar Saba. Mosh Danon, the chairman of the Israel Film Academy, briefly addressed the audience, and ended by wishing viewers a happy Jewish New Year and making a plea for unity. “I hope that – even in the Knesset [parliament] – they’ll understand that unity and bringing people together is the real issue,” he said.

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