Oscar nominators clearly have a soft spot for Israel. In the past two years, both Beaufort and Waltz With Bashir were contenders but not winners. This year's Israeli film Ajami just might win, though. The unscripted dialogue is mostly in Arabic; it was codirected by Israeli and Arab-Israeli filmmakers, Yaron Shani and Scandar Copti, virtual no-names until now; and instead of actors, the directors cast cops to play cops, and street kids as street kids. The film centers on the ongoing ethic conflicts in the Ajami neighborhood, where it's not only Jews versus Arabs, but also Christians versus Muslims, and urban Arabs versus Bedouin. Shot in less than three weeks for under $1 million, Ajami is the anti-Avatar. It screens as the closing-night film for the 24th annual Israel Film Festival
Thu., Feb. 25, 7:15 p.m., 2010
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