Israeli film makes Oscar semifinals

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — Israel’s entry in the Oscars has made the first cut.

“Ajami”  was among nine semifinalists in the Academy Awards’ foreign-language film category announced Wednesday. Sixty-five films were entered.

The semifinalists will be winnowed to five when all Oscar nominations are announced Feb. 2.

“Ajami” paints an unsparing picture of Arab-Jewish and intra-Arab tensions in a mixed quarter of Jaffa. Its co-directors are two young Israelis, Scandar Copti, a Christian Arab, and Yaron Shani, who is Jewish.

Also named was Germany’s “The White Ribbon,” which won the 2010 Golden Globe for best foreign film. The movie by Michael Haneke is set in a rustic German village in 1914 whose seemingly placid life holds the seeds for the Nazi flowering to come.

The other semifinalists are “El Secreto de Sus Ojos,” from Argentina; “Samson and Delilah,” from Australia; “The World Is Big and Salvation Lurks Around the Corner,” from Bulgaria; “A Prophet,” from France; “Kelin," from Kazakhstan; and “Winter in Wartime,” from The Netherlands, in which a Dutch boy aids a downed British pilot during World War II.

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