Two Israeli films nominated for best documentary Oscar

Two Israeli films are among the five nominated for best documentary for the Academy Awards.

“5 Broken Cameras,” directed by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi, and “The Gatekeepers,” directed by Dror Moreh, were among the films chosen from 15 finalists of the 126 films entered in the category when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the Oscar nominees on Jan. 10.

Emad Burnat’s mother in a scene from “5 Broken Cameras” photo/kino lorber films

“5 Broken Cameras” documents the first years of life for Burnat’s baby against the backdrop of the West Bank village of Bil’in’s battle against the Israeli security barrier. Burnat said five of his cameras were smashed by the Israeli army as he documented friends and family members being shot and injured by Israeli troops. The film won the documentary director’s award this year at the Sundance Film Festival.

“The Gatekeepers” consists of lengthy and surprisingly frank interviews with six former heads of Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, discussing the past, present and likely future of the tumultuous regional conflicts. It also has been named the best nonfiction film of 2012 by the National Society of Film Critics in the United States. It opens Feb. 22 in the Bay Area.

Nominated in their respective categories were Steven Spielberg as director and co-producer of “Lincoln,” which led the nominations with 12, playwright Tony Kushner for best adapted screenplay and Daniel Day-Lewis for best actor.

Mark Boal is up for his original screenplay “Zero Dark Thirty” on the hunt for Osama bin Laden, while Benh Zeitlin, whose father is Jewish, is in competition as director of “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”

In addition, veteran actor Alan Arkin got a nod for his supporting role in “Argo,” and producer Amy Ziering joined the best documentary feature list for “The Invisible War,” which probes sexual assaults in the U.S. armed forces.

Israel, whose entries made the top five shortlists of best foreign-language films in four of the last five years, struck out this time with “Fill the Void,” an insider’s view of haredi Orthodox life in Tel Aviv.

Among the films submitted by 71 countries, five dealt with the Jewish fate during the Nazi era and its aftermath. Though none made the final five, their themes indicate that the Holocaust theme still interests international filmmakers.

The 85th Academy Awards ceremony airs on Feb. 24. — jta