Oscar nods again for SA man, world Jewry

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When Oscars were doled out, Cape Jewish human rights activist Eric Abraham won his second gong - for the film Ida. Other Other films with Jewish awardees were: Birdman; Imitation Game; Grand Budapest Hotel; Boyhood. The “In Memoriam” featured Jews Menachem Golan; Mike Nichols; and Lauren Bacall - but they forgot Joan Rivers. Another awardee is the son of Pres. Obama’s liaison to US Jewry & Michelle Obama’s chief of staff. Read about all the Jewish winners…
by ANT KATZ - with JTA, The Times | Feb 24, 2015

A South African Jewish human rights activist, who was banned by the apartheid government, has walked away with his second Oscar. Eric Abraham, co-produced the Polish film Ida, which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. He was also the producer of the Czech film Kolya, which won an Oscar in the same category in 1996.

Oscar 15 2"It's wonderful when the underdog triumphs,” Abraham told The Times yesterday. "Ida seems to have touched people across the barriers of language and culture in over 30 countries so far and restores my faith in the appetite for films that make us think and feel about the human condition. SA has so many such stories waiting to be told on film," he added.

Right: Capetonian double-awardee Eric Abraham

"Ida" won the Oscar for the Best Foreign Language Film, a Polish film about a Catholic novitiate who learns she is the daughter of Jewish parents killed by the Nazis.

Other Jewish artists and themes were featured among the winners, but Israel’s losing streak at the Oscars continued as the nominated short film “Aya,” co-written and co-directed by Mihal Brezis and Oded Binnun and starring Sarah Adler, failed to win for Best Short Film.

The awards were handed out in Los Angeles on Monday morning SA time.

“Ida” is Jewish in many ways

The director of “Ida,” Pawel Pawlikowski, whose paternal grandmother was Jewish and died in Auschwitz, was asked during a backstage interview whether he considers the Holocaust and the fate of the Jewish people one aspect of post-World War II Poland. Pawlikowski, in his response, tried to shift the emphasis.

Oscars - Ida

LEFT: A scene from Ida (see picture of Pawel Pawlikowski accepting the Best Foreign Language Film Award below this story)

“Of course, Polish-Jewish relations are difficult,” he said. “And the two lead characters, Ida and [her aunt] Wanda, who are Jewish, but for me they are Polish.

"I don’t like people who attack the film from various sides and say, ‘Oh, it’s about Jews and Poles and stuff.'”


Top Jewish winners and Jewish links

“The Grand Budapest Hotel,” which tied with “Birdman” for the most Oscars at four apiece, has an oblique Jewish connection, as it was, according to director Wes Anderson, inspired by the writings of Austrian-Jewish novelist Stefan Zweig.

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In the individual categories, Mexican-Jewish cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki accepted the Academy Award for “Birdman,” repeating his victory last year for “Gravity.”


Right: Image for Jewish Report by Ant Katz

Patricia Arquette, whose mother is Jewish, won for Best Supporting Actress for her role in “Boyhood.”


Abraham is now proudly Capetonian

Eric Abraham is the founder of the Fugard Theatre in Cape Town, a film and theatre producer and the owner of a production company called Portobello.

According to the theatre's website, he is a former journalist and "human rights activist banned and house-arrested in 1976 and exiled for 15 years".

Ida is set in the 1960s in Poland, where a woman, orphaned during the German occupation in World War 2, is about to take her vows to become a Catholic nun.

The film’s writer/director, Pawel Pawlikowski's acceptance speech was met with applause when he said: "We make a film about silence and withdrawing from the world and the need for contemplation - and here we are, at the epicentre of world noise and attention. Fantastic - life is full of surprises."


Was Rivers forgotten, or snubbed?

The evening’s “In Memoriam” segment, devoted to film industry notables who have passed away over the past year, included among others Israeli filmmaker Menachem Golan, director Mike Nichols and legendary film actress Lauren Bacall.

A number of writers and people on Twitter were outraged that long-time Jewish red carpet grandee Joan Rivers was not mentioned.

Oscar 15 FULL

Pawel Pawlikowski accepting the Best Foreign Language Film Award for ‘Ida’ during the 87th Annual Academy Awards. PHOTO - KEVIN WINTER/GETTY IMAGES 


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