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Only One Jewish-themed Film Thanked the Academy This Year

It wasn’t last year. “One Day in September,” a film exploring the murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games won the Oscar for best documentary at Sunday’s Academy Awards.

The film, narrated by actor Michael Douglas and directed by Scottish director Kevin MacDonald, retells the harrowing events through the eyes of German, Israeli and Arab principals involved.

Arthur Cohn, who previously won an Oscar in 1971 for “The Garden of the Finzi- Continis,” about the lives of Italian Jews on the eve of the Holocaust, produced the film.

But two other films with Jewish themes that were nominated for Oscars – – “Solomon and Gaenor,” a Jewish “Romeo and Juliet” set in Wales that was nominated for best foreign film; and “Eyewitness,” which featured eyewitness paintings of life in Auschwitz and was nominated for best documentary short subject — did not win.

By contrast, the 1999 Academy Awards featured a plethora of awards for Jewish- themed films, actors and directors.

“Life Is Beautiful,” the tragicomic fable set partially in a concentration camp, earned best actor and best foreign film Oscars for its star and director, Roberto Benigni.

The best actress award went to the heroine of “Shakespeare in Love,” Gwyneth Paltrow, who counts 33 rabbis among her ancestors on her father’s side. Steven Spielberg was named best director for the graphic World War II saga, “Saving Private Ryan.”

In addition, two documentaries won Oscars as well.

There’s always next year.

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