“Foxtrot”: controversial, surreal, and heartbreaking


Latest foreign film tackles harsh realities of war

The second pick for UW-Parkside’s Foreign Film Series is not only a thought provoking piece, but also a highly controversial one. “Foxtrot”, an Israeli film depicting the fictional Feldmann family as they real from the loss of their son, tackles aspects of the quagmire of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As fun as that all sounds, the Israeli government was not amused. Culture minister, Miri Regev, repeatedly criticized one specific scene which depicted the military covering up the wrongful deaths of several Palestinian teens. Following the Foxtrot’s success at the Venice Film Festival, Regev posted on Facebook, “When an Israeli film wins an international prize, the heart fills with pride and my natural desire is to strengthen and encourage the Israeli success….This rule has one exception—when the international embrace is the result of self-flagellation and cooperation with the anti-Israel narrative.” In addition to these strong words, the Israeli government boycotted the film’s appearance at a Paris film festival, despite having helped to fund the event.


Ignoring the spoilsports

Despite the government’s outrage, the film was a huge success, taking home eight awards from the Israeli Film Academy, including best film, director, actor, cinematography and sound. The film has won a total of sixteen awards from eight separate academies and festivals all over the world.


The content

As previously established, the film centers on the Feldmann family and their anguish when military soldiers knock on their door and deliver the news that young Jonathan has fallen in the line of duty. The way that the family tears themselves and each other apart is genuinely disturbing to watch, especially when they attempt to contain their sorrow, only to further hurt themselves.

With a limited soundtrack, and little background noise, the film has lengthy stretches of near silence. However, sound effects, such as the buzzing of a doorbell or ringing of a phone, seem to be purposefully louder than is normal in such a dower film. This could be intentional on the part of the filmmakers or dial turned up too high on the part of the theater attendants, but it has a jarring effect in either case. The sudden bursts of sound following suck long moments of quiet mimic the despondent shock of such crushing news and truly help to put the audience in the dazed shoes of our protagonists.


Showing more and more promise

While the series’ opening film, “Hotel Salvation”, dealt with themes of death in an accepting and almost lighthearted way and focused on an old man ready for whatever was to come in death, “Foxtrot” is something of a 180 degree spin. The death in this Israeli film is an untimely tragedy, and not something to be accepted with an open mind, but mourned with a heavy heart. That is not to say that there are no laughs amidst all the drama and tears as, just with real life, we must find some solace in our pain or otherwise go mad.


Another strong addition to UW-Parkside’s 2018 Foreign Film Series, “Foxtrot” has kept the through-provocation-ball rolling and has at least one UW-Parkside student eagerly awaiting the next film showing. Said showing will be of the Italian film, “Call Me By Your Name”, and run from Oct. 11-14.

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