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Oscars 2024: the moral courage of Jonathan Glazer

Ssometimes between John Cena's Naked Tribute to Costume Design and Emily Blunt's playful rebukes of Ryan Gosling for “Kensplaining”, on Sunday 96th Academy AwardsJonathan Glazer won the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film for The area of ​​interest. “All our choices were made to reflect and confront the present – ​​not to say 'look what they did then'; look at what we're doing now,” said the writer and director of the German-language British production, in which a Nazi commander and his family lead a quiet life next to the unspeakable horrors of Auschwitz. “Our film shows where dehumanization comes to a head…Right now, we are here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust hijacked by an occupation that has led to conflict for so many people, that These are the victims of October 7 in Israel. , or the ongoing attack on Gaza. Glazer posed a question to the show's global audience: “How can we resist?”

This isn't the only political statement made on the Oscar stage this year. From Jimmy KimmelThe message of support for entertainment unions, interspersed with a carefully secured opening monologue, for 20 days in Mariupol Writer-director Mstyslav Chernov's emotional appeal to Ukraine caused concern among many event participants. Yet only Glazer explicitly addressed the bloodshed in Gaza and Israel – a devastating conflict that has dominated global news for the past five months but whose rights, wrongs and collateral damage are a rare topic of discussion. disagreement, which is best avoided in public, within a predominantly liberal party. industry. His speech was a moment of moral courage inextricably linked to the urgent message of his film.

The area of ​​interest is, as Glazer noted, a portrait of dehumanization taken to the genocidal extreme. Everyone knows (even if a vocal minority, still under the influence of Nazism, continues to deny) what happened within the walls of the German concentration camps. Images of gas chambers, mass graves and emaciated bodies in striped uniforms became familiar and disturbing reminders of the suffering endured by millions of Jews and other foreigners under Hitler's Third Reich. Every year brings a new crop of films and TV shows featuring cartoonish Nazi villains. Again The area of ​​interest returns perspectives to the other side of the mirror that is dehumanization. This illustrates how numbness to the torture, starvation, and death of innocent people you are convinced are less than human turns even the most passive enablers of this violence into monsters. The more normal the family life of Commander Rudolf Höss (Christian Friedel) seems, the more horrible it becomes.

So it stands to reason that Glazer would use a scene where Vanessa Redgrave expressed similar sentiments in 1978 – and on which the winners regularly speak out, to mixed reviews, on controversial issues ranging from gender inequality, racism, war– to condemn the ongoing Israeli bombings which have already cost more than 30,000 Palestinians their lives as well as the brutal Hamas massacre on October 7. The filmmaker's reference to an occupation decades before the current outbreak of violence anchored his assessment in history, just as The area of ​​interest uses past atrocities to speak to a present that has yet to learn the lessons of the Holocaust.

Glazer was taking a real risk in defending the Palestinians on Hollywood's biggest stage. In November, Susan Sarandon was fired by her talent agency and actress Melissa Barrera was fired from a role in Cry VII For expressing some pro-Palestinian views. On social networks, a number of eminent Israeli falcons are already attack Glazer And distort your speech as a renunciation of his Jewish identity.

But if he hadn't read his deliberate, pre-written statement, the entire show could have played out as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening in the Middle East. While high-profile attendees including Mark Ruffalo, Billie Eilish and Ramy Youssef, wore Artists4Ceasefire pins, ABC's red carpet interviewers ignored them. (“We call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza. We call for peace and lasting justice for the Palestinian people.” Youssef explained to Variety.) Cillian Murphy, in accepting the Best Actor award for his portrayal of the man who created the world's deadliest weapon of mass dehumanization, made a patently vague call for peace: “For better or for worst of all, we all live in Oppenheimer's world. ” he said. “I would like to dedicate this to the peacemakers.”

Ever since popular artists speak on awards show podiums, a contingent of viewers and pundits have been urging them to keep politics out of what is supposed to be a fun night. The fact is that politics is at the heart of the art that the Oscars (and all entertainment awards) aim to celebrate. Even barbie is political. There is therefore certainly no separation between the images of war evoked by Oppenheimer And 20 days in Mariupol And The area of ​​interest carnage in Gaza. How refreshing to see honored a director whose humanism prevails over Hollywood taboos.

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