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Cannes 2011: Israeli dramedy 'Footnote' finds a distributor inside the margins

May 13, 2011 |  5:44 pm

Joseph cedar 
"Footnote," one of the more buzzed-about titles in competition at the Cannes Film Festival, has found a U.S. home.

Joseph Cedar's Hebrew-language black comedy of a rivalry between father and son academics has been acquired by Sony Pictures Classics, which bought North American and Latin American rights. The movie will be rolled out to English-speaking audiences in the coming months.

Cedar solidified Israeli cinema's place on the map when his drama "Beaufort" was nominated for a foreign-language Oscar three years ago. But whereas that movie is rife with political overtones, "Footnote" examines a complicated relationship irrespective of military and diplomatic concerns.

The movie focuses on the Shkolnick family, particularly an elderly, embittered Talmud scholar and his overachieving adult son, who simultaneously resents and admires his father.

When the movie screened for the media on Friday night in Cannes, pundits were taken with the complexity of the central relationship and the subtlety of the humor. But the film remains a commercial challenge, lacking the obvious topical hook of recent Israeli Oscar nominees such as "Waltz With Bashir" and "Ajami."

--Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Joseph Cedar in Berlin in 2007. Credit: Marcus Brandt / Pool /EPA