And the winner is…Israel: Behind the Scenes of Footnote
This week Israel made it in the news a lot. Mostly you read about politics, lame speeches and overused terms, but if you dug a little deeper you might have found out about Joseph Cedar, an Israeli film director who won best screenplay at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Whenever an Israeli wins something anywhere in the world, an Israeli citizen feels entitled to enjoy the moment and share the good news, almost as though they are the ones accepting the honor. I think this is where you can definitely say, “we’re all family here.” When Natalie Portman took home the Oscar for best actress at the Academy Awards this year, she might as well have been playing for Team Israel, because she was celebrated as though she brought home the gold. I don’t even know what makes her Israeli (obviously her mom or dad), but I shed a tear (not really) when she gave her acceptance speech— it was like Hebrew to my ears.
So when Joseph Cedar, an Israeli, clinched the Cannes award for best screenplay, I just wanted to give someone, anyone a high five and pop the champagne bottle (more like cheap fantasia, but you get the picture) open and celebrate.
Cedar is a gifted young director, who is no stranger to winning awards. His first movie, “Time of Favor” won six Ofir Academy Awards, including Best Picture. In 2007 his critically acclaimed film, “Beaufort” was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The movie is based on his own experiences during his army service where he served in Lebanon.
His latest win at Cannes is for his new movie “Footnote”, which premiered there. The movie is a dramedy that examines the relationship between father and son, both of whom are competing researchers of Talmud at an Israeli university. The film is set to premiere on June 2.
I had the chance to sit down with Joseph Cedar’s father, Prof. Howard Cedar and talk about his son’s continued success. But what makes the conversation even more interesting, is that Prof. Howard Cedar is also gifted and no stranger to awards— however, this is not a son following in his father’s footsteps story, but quite the opposite, Prof. Cedar is a world renowned scientist. Known in the medical world as the ‘Father of methylation’, Cedar has won many awards for his work including his recent honor, the Canada Gairdner International award for his contribution to medical science. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if his contribution ultimately leads to a Nobel Prize.
Prof. Cedar has been teaching and continuing his investigative research at The Hebrew University’s Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada since the 1970’s when he moved to Israel. That’s where I interviewed him, in between his busy day of researching and being a top scientist.
By the way, for all the praise I am giving him, it is just as important that you know he is a really nice guy. He sits relaxed on his couch and enjoys speaking to me about his son’s good news. He also makes sure to tell me he is proud of all his kids. Awesome! You can check out the video interview to see what he says about the movie, Cannes and what’s next for Joseph.
And just before you do that, let me leave you with this, so you really get a picture of how great of a father he is— not just in the science world but as a family man too. I told him that I don’t know how he must feel having his son achieve such a great honor. I said my son is sitting up now (he is almost 8-months-old), and for me as a mother it feels incredible. I burst with joy and glee and I couldn’t be more proud. He told me it’s the same feeling.