BY Harriet Robbins
FOOTNOTE, Israel's official selection in the foreign-language category of the recent 84th Academy Awards, did not win an Oscar but it still gave me much pleasure while watching it. The film deals with the world of academia and the competitive spirit between a father and son who are both Talmudic scholars. The university where they teach is notorious for its uncompromising standards and for its unforgiving attitude towards those who make mistakes in their work.
Director Joseph Cedar had this to say about his film's title: "One talmudic researcher who is known to be very sparse and dry in his writing, once explained his frequent use of footnotes thusly, 'It is a piece of information, sometimes an anecdote, that is not necessarily verifiable, sometimes even outrageous or silly, often only remotely relevant to the main text, but at the same time it is just too irresistible and juicy to leave out. That is a footnote.'"
Cedar's handling of the father-son conflict and of the claustrophobic world of academia is irresistibly juicy as well. He delves deeply into the film's characters, showing the truth about their good and bad sides--but always in a wise, compassionate way.
FOOTNOTE (in Hebrew, with English subtitles) is now playing in select theaters and is also available on media and DVD. The film has won numerous awards at international film festivals.