Israel has a sensible approach to picking its official Oscar submission every year. The film that wins the best picture Ophir, their own Academy Award, is submitted. That means that it's not some group representing the country that decides what is appropriate. Government cultural bodies often make the wrong choice, for political, economic or even personal reasons. Why would Belgium, for example, not submit the popular, well-received, Cannes award-winning film from the Dardenne brothers, The Kid with a Bike (IFC)? Well, they submitted Bullhead, a crime thriller about cattle farmers, instead. The Film Experience keeps a running chart of the foreign Oscar submissions, complete with U.S. distributors.
As predicted this year, the winner of the Ophir is Joseph Cedar's Footnote (SPC), which just swept nine Ophir Awards (thank you @cinemasopian). The movie played great at Cannes and Toronto. It's a funny relationship dramedy about an egotistical, ambitious professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem locked in an academic rivalry with his son, who is outperforming him. They love each other, but can't help but be arch-rivals. Exquisitely written --the movie won the Cannes screenwriting Palme d'Or--the movie should play stateside as well. Cedar was nominated before for Beaufort.