Footnote

Footnote

Alisa Rosen as Yehudit Shkolnik and Shlomo Bar Aba as Eliezer Shkolnik. Photo credit: Ren Mendelson. Picture courtesy Sony Pictures Classics. All rights reserved.

Footnote

Starring:
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Stills Photographer:
  • Ren Mendelson
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* Most external filmography links go to The Internet Movie Database.

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Footnote (2011/2012)

Opened: 03/09/2012 Limited

Limited03/09/2012
Lincoln Plaza03/09/2012 - 06/21/2012105 days
Angelika/NYC03/09/2012 - 05/17/201270 days
Royal Theatre03/16/2012 - 04/19/201235 days
Town Center 503/23/2012 - 05/03/201242 days
Playhouse 703/23/2012 - 04/19/201228 days
Kendall Square...03/23/2012 - 04/05/201214 days
Fallbrook 703/30/2012 - 04/19/201221 days
Claremont 503/30/2012 - 04/05/20127 days
NoHo 704/13/2012 - 04/19/20127 days
Music Hall 304/20/2012 - 05/03/201214 days
Monica 4-Plex04/20/2012 - 04/26/20127 days
Village East05/18/2012 - 05/31/201214 days
DVD07/24/2012

Trailer: Click for trailer

Websites: Home

Genre: Israeli Drama (Hebrew w/English subtitles)

Rated: PG for for thematic elements, brief nudity, language and smoking.

Synopsis

FOOTNOTE is the tale of a great rivalry between a father and son. Eliezer and Uriel Shkolnik are both eccentric professors, who have dedicated their lives to their work in Talmudic Studies. The father, Eliezer, is a stubborn purist who fears the establishment and has never been recognized for his work. Meanwhile his son, Uriel, is an up-and-coming star in the field, who appears to feed on accolades, endlessly seeking recognition.

Then one day, the tables turn. When Eliezer learns that he is to be awarded the Israel Prize, the most valuable honor for scholarship in the country, his vanity and desperate need for validation are exposed. His son, Uriel, is thrilled to see his father's achievements finally recognized but, in a darkly funny twist, is forced to choose between the advancement of his own career and his father's. Will he sabotage his father's glory?

FOOTNOTE is the story of insane academic competition, the dichotomy between admiration and envy for a role model, and the very complicated relationship between a father and son.

Select Awards and Festivals

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Foreign Language Film (Israel)
  • Winner, Best Screenplay: 2011 Cannes Film Festival
  • Winner, Best Picture, 2011 Ophir Awards
  • National Board of Review: One of the Top Five Foreign Language Films of the Year
  • Film Independent Spirit Award Nominee: Best Screenplay, Joseph Cedar

Interview with Joseph Cedar

Where did the idea for FOOTNOTE come from?

It is difficult for me to answer that question without spoiling the film and giving away a key plot point, because the initial idea was exactly that -- a plot point that I thought would be interesting to develop. It is remotely based on something that almost happened to me, and I enjoyed imagining how it would unfold if it did happen to me. The finished film, however, turned out to be much more complex than that initial idea. During the writing process the focus shifted from the plot to an examination of these two characters.

You have used different tools of the comedy genre (burlesque scenes, visual/editing choices, situation comedy...) that could qualify the film as an "intellectual comedy", would you agree with this?

I like that the film may be considered a comedy, because it tells the audience that they can feel comfortable to laugh and smile and not necessarily take everything too seriously. But if we want to be formalists, strictly speaking, I think this story qualifies as a tragedy, as most father-son stories do.

The film is a portrait of 2 generations: fathers and sons. It's both a universal issue and a great part of Israeli culture. Which one did you intend to talk about?

I've been thinking about this tension between the universal and the culturally specific for some time. While I'm still not sure I know if a perfect balance can exist, because one does come at the expense of the other, I find that my own natural tendency is to work with extremely culturally specific material, and hope that people outside of my close circle will somehow recognize the human motivations. This question also helps me articulate my feelings towards films I see or books I read. When a story is too "universal," I am either suspicious of it, or bored by it.

Why did you choose Talmud researchers?

The Talmud department at the Hebrew University is a remarkable place. It is the smallest department in the university, but it is famous worldwide for its uncompromising methods and its unforgiving attitude toward the notion of 'mistake.' Once I started hearing stories from within this department, about mythological rivalries between scholars, stubbornness on an epic scale, eccentric professors who live with an academic mission that is bigger than life itself, even if its topic is radically esoteric, I fell in love with them all, and they became the center of this story.

The rivalry between the father and his son in your movie implies the sons' sacrifice but maybe also the fathers' sacrifice?

I would rather not try to interpret these themes in the film, but I believe the word 'sacrifice' can be very useful when discussing the nature of the father -- son relationship.

Can you talk about the end of your movie?

The last 15 minutes of the film were treated more as a dance sequence than a dramatic scene. They were choreographed more than they were directed. The emotions seemed too big, too contradicting, too terrifying to put into dialogue or into simple realistic human encounters. The result is a subjective point of view of an event that from the outside seems festive and harmless, but from these characters' perspective, from within their inner world, it is nothing less than apocalyptic.

It's a movie about men. The women are in the shadow. Is there something to understand here?

I will argue that the mother character, Yehudit, is a catalyst for the entire story and is very much in the dramatic spotlight of the film. But it is true that this film is about two men, and in the service of dramatic focus, it is their perspective that is investigated in the film.

Can you comment on the title? And the importance of this footnote?

One Talmud researcher, who is known to be very sparse and dry in his writing, once explained to me his use of a footnote like this: "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 entirely..." That is pretty much how I feel about this film. It's a footnote.

 

Trailer