(JTA) – “The Fabelmans,” Steven Spielberg’s autobiographical drama about his Jewish upbringing, had an expected strong haul of Oscar nominations, picking up seven nods Tuesday morning.
A remake of a movie once targeted by the Nazis, a blockbuster embroiled in a lawsuit with an Israeli family and a documentary by the program director of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival also got recognized in a list jam-packed with Jewish characters, stories and artists.
Spielberg’s movie overcame an anemic box office showing to score nominations in the major categories of best picture, director and screenplay, for Spielberg and celebrated Jewish playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner. The directing nomination brings Spielberg’s total nominations in the category to nine, tying him with Martin Scorsese for the second-most directing nominations in Oscar history.
The film also scored acting nods for Judd Hirsch, who is Jewish, and Michelle Williams, who recently said she is planning to raise her two children with Judaism.
“The Fabelmans” was the best picture nominee with the strongest Jewish themes, but it wasn’t the only one. The psychological drama “Tár,” starring Cate Blanchett as a problematic conductor, picked up six nominations, including for picture, actress and director; the film weaves Jewish mysticism into its storytelling.
“All Quiet On The Western Front,” Netflix’s new German-language adaptation of the classic 1929 novel about the horrors experienced by German soldiers during World War I, was also nominated for nine Oscars, including best picture, international feature and adapted screenplay. The film’s source material was once banned and burned by the ascending Nazi Party, which believed its anti-war stance made the German military look weak and constituted a threat to their plans for world domination.
When the book’s initial 1930 film adaptation, directed by Jewish filmmaker Lewis Milestone, was released in Germany, Nazis led by Joseph Goebbels set off stink bombs, released mice into the theaters and called the movie a “Judenfilm” (or “Jewish film”). Germany and Austria banned the film from being shown in their countries, and the public censorship campaign led the novel’s author, Erich Maria Remarque, to renounce his German citizenship (Nazis were erroneously labeling him as a Jew).
In response, Jewish studio head Carl Laemmle Sr., agreed to heavily edit the movie and remove material deemed objectionable to the Nazis in order to improve its commercial prospects in Germany. One possible silver lining for the remake’s producers: The 1930 film went on to win best picture that year.
Back to this year’s Oscars: “Top Gun: Maverick,” the action blockbuster sequel, picked up four nominations, including for best picture. The film’s distributor, Paramount, is currently embroiled in a copyright lawsuit with the family of Israeli journalist Ehud Yonay, whose magazine article about a Navy fighter pilot school was the basis for the original “Top Gun” in 1986. In November, a judge dismissed Paramount’s attempts to throw out the suit and ruled the Yonay family could proceed with their claims.
The writer, director and actress Sarah Polley also scored a nomination for best adapted screenplay for her drama “Women Talking,” about a group of abused women in an isolated Mennonite community, which was also nominated for best picture. Polley has a Jewish biological father, whose secret parentage she explored in her 2013 documentary “Stories We Tell.”
The Jewish film producer Gail Berman also scored her first Oscar nomination for producing best picture nominee “Elvis,” while Jewish producing partners Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel scored their own best picture nomination for “The Whale.” The movie, which Aronofsky directed, stars Brendan Fraser (also nominated) as a morbidly obese English professor.
In the performing categories, one actor was nominated for playing a real-life Jewish convert: Ana de Armas received a best actress nomination for her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe in Netflix’s “Blonde.” Monroe converted to Judaism in the 1950s and remained devoted to the religion even after divorcing her husband, Jewish playwright Arthur Miller.
Also, veteran actress Jamie Lee Curtis — whose father, Golden Age Hollywood actor Tony Curtis, was Jewish — picked up her first-ever Oscar nomination for her supporting role as a sinister tax officer in the multiverse sci-fi comedy “Everything Everywhere All At Once.”
Curtis is nominated in the category alongside her co-star Stephanie Hsu, who is also known to fans of the very Jewish TV series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” as Mei Lin, a Chinese restaurant owner who gets together with co-lead Joel Maisel. Early buzz on the upcoming fifth season of “Maisel” says that Hsu’s character will convert to Judaism.
Another “Everything Everywhere” co-star, Jewish actress Jenny Slate, helped a different film score an Oscar nomination in the best animated feature category: the stop-motion mockumentary “Marcel The Shell With Shoes On.” Slate co-wrote the feature with her ex-husband Dean Fleischer-Camp, who directs; Slate also voices the lead role of Marcel. However, she is not one of the nominated producers on the film.
“All The Beauty And The Bloodshed,” a portrait of the outsider artist Nan Goldin and her years-long activism campaign against opioid manufacturers the Sackler family, was nominated in the best documentary feature category and is favored to win. The film documents how Goldin was born to Jewish parents but had an emotionally abusive family life and left home in her teens. The Sacklers are also Jewish.
The documentary short category saw the second nomination in a row for Jewish filmmaker Jay Rosenblatt, whose documentary “How Do You Measure A Year” chronicles many years of his daughter Ella’s birthdays. Rosenblatt is the program director of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.
Veteran Polish filmmaker Jerzy Skolimowski was also nominated in the international feature category for his drama “EO,” told from the perspective of a donkey. Skolimowski’s father was a member of the Polish Resistance and his mother hid a Jewish family in their house during World War II.
Jewish composer Justin Hurwitz, who won an Oscar for his work on “La La Land,” was nominated again for the score for “Babylon,” a follow-up production with that film’s director, Damien Chazelle.
And in the original song category, Jewish songwriter Diane Warren extended her nomination streak to 14 for the number “Applause,” from the feminist documentary “Tell It Like A Woman.” Warren has never won a competitive Oscar but did receive an honorary Academy Award last year.
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Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.
Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary
By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”
Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)
Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station
This is a developing story.
(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.
An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.
Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.
The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.
The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.
Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.
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