One of nine foreign language films that made the Oscar shortlist this year, Samuel Maoz’ Foxtrot is screening at Sundance this year in the Spotlight section, following a successful run at premier festivals around the world. Taking the prestigious Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival, the Israeli film subsequently screened at Toronto, Telluride and AFI Fest, among others.
Winning eight Ophir Awards, Foxtrot tells the story of Michael (Lior Ashkenazi) and Dafna (Sarah Adler), an Israeli couple who are informed that their son has been killed in the line of duty. Told in triptych fashion, the film explores the perspective of these anguished parents as well as that of their son, stationed at a remote desert checkpoint where he was deployed.
Exploring personal trauma with Lebanon, his first feature film, Maoz sought with Foxtrot to explore the aftermath of tragedy—the “post-trauma.” “I wanted to tell a personal story that would reflect society from a wider perspective,” Maoz told Deadline, appearing with Ashkenazi at Deadline’s Sundance Studio. “Foxtrot deals with the bleeding wound of Israeli society, with the traumatic circle we are trapped in.”
As Maoz relays, his second feature stemmed from a haunting personal story. Late to school one day, the filmmaker’s daughter asked to take a taxi to make it to her destination on time—and in an educational, parental moment, Maoz insisted that she take the bus. Little did he know that he would put her in harms way, as a terrorist blew himself up in the vicinity. Luckily for Maoz, his daughter didn’t make that bus, and was able to get away from the scene.
“I experienced the worst hour of my life, worse than the entire Lebanon war, and I asked myself, ‘What can I learn from this experience? Because after all, I did something that seemed to me right and logical to do,” Maoz reflected. “I realized that I can’t learn anything, but I wanted to deal with the gap between things we control and those that are beyond our control.”
To hear more from Maoz about the celebrated Foxtrot, click above.