The director uses an Oscar speech to condemn the war in Israel

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POSITIVE
At this year’s Oscars, “The Zone of Interest” director Jonathan Glazer took the prize for most polarizing speech.
And the swirl surrounding exactly what he said and what he meant — still a matter of debate — doesn’t appear to be dying down.
When the British filmmaker took the stage after the Auschwitz-set Holocaust drama was announced as best international film, he was greeted with a standing ovation.
He then referred to notes he’d prepared in advance, thanked the requisite players and drew a parallel between “Zone of Interest” and the current conflict in Gaza that was difficult to decipher given the audience applause and his own mumbling.
“All our choices were made to reflect and confront us in the present, not to say look what they did then, but rather look what we do now,” he said, according to the Academy’s official transcript of the speech.
“Our film shows where dehumanization leads at its worst.
It’s shaped all of our past and present.
Right now, we stand here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation which has led to conflict for so many innocent people.
Whether the victims of October — whether the victims of October the 7th in Israel or the ongoing attack on Gaza, all the victims of this dehumanization, how do we resist?”Glazer skipped the backstage pressroom after the win and hasn’t done any interviews to clarify the point he hoped to make with his speech.
He declined to comment for this story.
That hasn’t stopped people from weighing in — their divergent views correspond to the spectrum of positions on the Israel-Hamas war.
“He used his power and position and the biggest global stage to speak up for people with no power, no voice, or those too afraid to speak up, in an industry which is very conservative and risk adverse and which has a long history of blacklisting people,” Asif Kapadia, who won the 2015 best feature documentary Oscar for “Amy,” tells Variety.
“He stood up and told the truth.
This is what true artists do.”That support was echoed by Jesse Peretz, director of the film “Our Idiot Brother” and the HBO series “Girls” and an Artists4Ceasefire signatory, who says: “I think this is a case where nuanced language is unfortunately a dangerous thing to try to employ, because our intense emotions can make us want to bend the meaning behind words that make us uncomfortable — so that it becomes easier to reject them.”But others slammed Glazer’s speech, like Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, who wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter: “It’s truly disheartening to see someone minimize the Holocaust literally as they are accepting an award for a film they made … about the Holocaust.
Glazer talks about understanding where dehumanization can lead, yet is blind to the fact that it’s Hamas’ dehumanization of Jews & Israelis that led to the current war.
Let me be clear: Israel is not hijacking anyone’s Jewishness.
It’s defending every Jew’s right to exist.”Greenblatt declined further comment, but an ADL rep tells Variety that he was referring to the entire speech and not just snippets that have circulated on social media.
Many who initially commented on Glazer’s speech, like actor Michael Rapaport, did not appear to have heard or read the speech in full.
(Rapaport wrote that Glazer “exploited the HOLOCAUST, its victims, and survivors, while you refute your Jewishness in front of the world.”) Others like commentator Ben Shapiro did not appear to have seen the film based on his well-circulated tweet the day after the Oscars that said, “In Jonathan Glazer’s ‘Zone of Interest,’ you don’t see one Jew.
Those are the best Jews, according to Glazer: the faceless victims screaming in the distance.
Ironically, he’s the villain: picking up awards from the bodies of those anonymous dead Jews while ignoring the living ones getting slaughtered in the Gaza Envelope by genocidal murderers.’” (There are several Jewish characters depicted in “The Zone of Interest.”)Glazer’s speech and the reactions highlight a growing divide in Hollywood that erupted in the wake of the Oct. 7 terror attacks in Israel.
Even in the room, Glazer’s speech was met with a mixed response.
While Mark Ruffalo could be seen applauding enthusiastically in the front row of the Dolby Theatre, others sat motionless like Da’Vine Joy Randolph, who had just won the Oscar for her supporting role in “The Holdovers.”Best supporting actor nominee Ruffalo was one of many Oscar attendees who wore the Artists4Ceasefire pin.
He has been an outspoken advocate for the Palestinian cause.
But he also has worked behind the scenes on the efforts to free the hostages who remain captives of Hamas.
Sources say Ruffalo has met with family members of the hostages as well as people who survived the Hamas attack.
While discourse has raged about Glazer’s speech, perhaps an even more controversial move was who he was joined by onstage when he collected the Oscar.
Standing silently behind the filmmaker was Len Blavatnik, a

Award for most divisive speech went to Jonathan Glazer, director of “The Zone of Interest,” at this year’s Oscars. And it doesn’t seem like the controversy over the precise words he used and the meaning behind them is going away.

Standing ovations met the British director as he took the stage following the announcement of the Holocaust drama, which is set in Auschwitz, as the best international film. Then, with the audience cheering and his own mumbling making it hard to understand, he referred to notes he had prepared ahead of time, thanked the necessary participants, and drew a comparison between “Zone of Interest” and the existing conflict in Gaza.

According to the Academy’s official transcript of the speech, he stated, “All our choices were made to reflect and confront us in the present, not to say look what they did then, but rather look what we do now.”. “Our film illustrates the worst-case scenario of dehumanization. Both our past and present have been molded by it. Here we are as men who deny being Jewish and that the Holocaust was distorted by an occupation that caused so much suffering for countless innocent people. How do we fight back against all of these victims of dehumanization, be they those of October 7th in Israel or the current assault on Gaza?

After the victory, Glazer refused to go to the backstage press room and hasn’t participated in any interviews to elaborate on the point he intended to make in his speech. For the sake of this story, he declined to comment.

Despite this, people have continued to voice their opinions, which are as varied as the opinions on the Israel-Hamas conflict.

“In an industry that is very conservative and risk adverse and which has a long history of blacklisting people, he used his power and position and the biggest global stage to speak up for people with no power, no voice, or those too afraid to speak up,” Asif Kapadia, the 2015 best feature documentary Oscar winner for “Amy,” tells Variety. “He took a stand and spoke the truth. This is the work of true artists. “.

Jesse Peretz, director of the HBO series “Girls” and the movie “Our Idiot Brother,” echoed this support, saying, “I think this is a case where nuanced language is unfortunately a dangerous thing to try to employ, because our intense emotions can make us want to bend the meaning behind words that make us uncomfortable — so that it becomes easier to reject them.”. “.

Yet, some others were not impressed with Glazer’s remarks. Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, posted on X, the former Twitter, saying: “It is extremely depressing to witness someone downplay the Holocaust in order to receive an award for a movie they produced that is… about the Holocaust. Though he ignores the fact that Hamas’ dehumanization of Jews and Israelis is what sparked the current conflict, Glazer talks about knowing where dehumanization can lead. To be clear, nobody’s Jewishness is being appropriated by Israel. It is the defense of the existence of every Jew. “.

Though an ADL representative tells Variety that Greenblatt was referring to the full speech and not just the bits that have gone viral on social media, Greenblatt declined to comment further. Actor Michael Rapaport was among the many who initially commented on Glazer’s speech, but it didn’t seem like they listened to or read the entire speech. (Rapaport claimed that Glazer “used the Holocaust, its victims, and its survivors as a prop, while you publicly deny your Jewish heritage. Some, such as analyst Ben Shapiro, didn’t seem to have seen the movie based on his widely shared tweet the day after the Oscars, “You don’t see a single Jew in Jonathan Glazer’s ‘Zone of Interest.'”. The victims without faces who are screaming in the distance are the best Jews, in Glazer’s opinion. Ironically, he is the antagonist, collecting medals from the bodies of those unidentified dead Jews while turning a blind eye to the living beings being massacred by genocidal killers in the Gaza Envelope. “The Zone of Interest” features a number of Jewish characters. ” “).

Following the October attacks, a growing rift in Hollywood surfaced, which is highlighted by Glazer’s speech and the responses. Israel saw seven terror attacks. There was disagreement even within the room over Glazer’s speech. While Da’Vine Joy Randolph, who had just won an Oscar for her supporting role in “The Holdovers,” and Mark Ruffalo could be seen wildly cheering from the front row of the Dolby Theatre, others were seated in silence. “.

Several Oscar goers wore the Artists4Ceasefire pin, including Ruffalo, the nominee for best supporting actor. He has consistently supported the Palestinian cause vocally. Nevertheless, he has also contributed covertly to the endeavors to release the hostages that Hamas still holds prisoner. According to sources, Ruffalo has met with survivors of the Hamas attack as well as relatives of the hostages.

Though Glazer’s speech has been the subject of intense debate, his onstage companion during the Oscar presentation may have been even more contentious. Len Blavatnik, a billionaire from the Soviet Union who has long been connected to the blacklisted Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, stood silently behind the filmmaker. Among the richest man on the planet, Blavatnik has contributed millions to Republican causes, including a whooping $1 million to the inauguration committee of Donald Trump. Furthermore, he had business dealings with Brett Ratner and Harvey Weinstein prior to their downfall due to MeToo allegations. An extra twist is that Blavatnik has allegedly donated substantial sums of money to numerous Israeli causes and is close friends with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (A representative for Blavatnik, who is crediting the A24 movie as executive producer, states: “Mr. Blavatnik is incredibly pleased with the praise that “The Zone of Interest” has garnered. He continues to steadfastly support Israel. “).”.

Furthermore, it was not evident to whom Glazer was alluding when he used the pronoun “we” in the sentence “we stand here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked.” Blavatnik is Jewish. James Wilson, the movie’s producer, wasn’t far from Glazer, but it’s unclear if he is or isn’t.

The executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, a leftist organization, Stefanie Fox, believes that those criticizing Glazer are only stating his case. His opponents only wish to divert our attention away from the Israeli government’s extermination of Palestinians, she claims. “He wants to apply the lessons of the Holocaust to the horrors that ‘confront us in the present,” she claims. Glazer represents the vast and expanding community of Jews who respect our past by standing with our Palestinian brothers and sisters in their fight for justice and freedom. “.

Simone Zimmerman, the creator of the grassroots group If Not Now, which advocates for a ceasefire and the termination of “U.S. policy,” added a similar sentiment. S. backing for the apartheid regime in Israel. “.

“The idea that this film is meant to be a wake-up call to us in the present is, in my opinion, the most important line in the speech—and the one that nobody is freaking out about,” she tells Variety. The same people who are fervently committed to disproving the crimes that are being committed in Gaza by those who do, in fact, use the memory of the Holocaust as justification for their actions are also the ones who are going crazy over the speech. “.

“Son of Saul,” a terrifying film by Hungarian director László Nemes that was also set in Auschwitz, was the last Holocaust drama to win the Oscar for best international feature. Nemes discussed his opinions on Glazer’s speech and movie in a statement to Variety.

He remarked, “I think ‘The Zone of Interest’ is an important movie and I really like it.”. “There is a responsibility involved in making a film such as this one. In regards to the extermination of the European Jews, among other things, Glazer has blatantly failed to gauge this obligation. And the fact that he was receiving praise for it from the movie industry’s elite was disgusting. “.

It doesn’t seem like the director intends to address the numerous unanswered questions regarding Glazer’s brief speech anytime soon.

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