While Samuel Maoz’s Israeli Oscar entry Foxtrot was tremendously popular at the Venice Film Festival, taking the Grand Jury Prize, among other recognitions, it hasn’t been quite so popular in Israel itself, generating a great deal of controversy in Maoz’s homeland.
“Someone wrote me an email that said he was waiting for me outside my building. He wrote me that when I went out, he would throw acid on my face because they wanted me to be blind and not do films anymore,” Maoz recalls. “Someone else wrote me that I have a beautiful daughter and she wouldn’t be beautiful very soon. Things like that. I was surprised to see that our Minister of Culture attacked the film—without seeing it, by the way — and she did it in exactly the same way the film talks about.”
Set in Tel Aviv, the film follows a couple who learn that their soldier son has died in the line of duty, then flashing back to the son’s experience of military service in the days leading up to his death.
In conversation with Deadline’s Anthony D’Alessandro following an Awardsline screening of the film, Maoz discussed the “collective trauma” shared by those born in Israel and depictions of the traumatized male psyche, many of which he considers to be “clichés.”
“In Israeli society, there are many versions of Michael [the film’s protagonist], mainly because his generation — my generation, the second generation [born] of Holocaust survivors—our main problem was that we couldn’t complain about anything. Our parents, our teachers—who obviously experienced horrible trauma and naturally were not very stable — they used to shout at us from morning till evening that they survived the Holocaust, and that we spoiled children [shouldn’t] complain,” the director explained. “Somehow, we have become an additional generation of trauma victims. We enter ourselves into the endless traumatic cycle of the ‘foxtrot,’ so perhaps the conclusion of the film is that fate cannot be changed— not because it’s divine, but because of the nature of traumatized Israeli men and women who shaped the nature of the collective trauma.”
To hear more from Foxtrot director Samuel Maoz, click above.