HOLLYWOOD – The fact that the cast of "Beaufort" did not serve in the IDF was in fact helpful during the film's production, Israeli director Joseph Cedar said Saturday during an event held by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) in honor of the foreign directors whose films were nominated for an Oscar.
During the event, held at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Los Angeles, the foreign directors answered questions presented to them by their host, American producer Mark Johnson ("The Chronicles of Narnia," "Rain Man").
The event was attended by some 200 to 300 members of the academy, who vote on the winning films, most of them former actors and producers, as well as an outside audience.
The Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2007 will be presented on Sunday in Hollywood.
After "Beaufort" hit the screens in Israel, and as part of the fashionable campaign against celebrities dodging military service, many criticized the film, and particularly its stars who did not serve in the IDF and were accused of "earning a pretty penny" at the expense of real soldiers.
'Actors understood army life'During Saturday's event, and after requesting not to speak to the microphone so as to honor the Shabbat, Cedar addressed the claims voiced against his actors, noting that about one-third of the cast of "Beaufort" did not serve in the army for health or conscientious reasons.
"The fact that they did not serve in the IDF was an advantage," he said. "We took them to an outpost and rehearsed playing soldiers. They understood the disengagement from their civil life, with no cell phone reception, etc.
"They understood that in the army you sometimes feel like in prison. Had they already possessed this personal experience, it would have been impossible for me to produce these distinctions for them."
Four other films are nominated alongside "Beaufort" for Academy Award for best foreign language film of the year: “The Counterfeiters" from Austria (the leading contender), “Katyń” from Poland, “Mongol” from Kazakhstan and "12" from Russia.
"I'm curious," Cedar concluded, glancing at the other directors sitting next to him on the stage, "do the viewers here expect the actors to have real combat experience?" The crowd at the auditorium smiled quietly.