Oscars not fair to Jerusalema

Edward Tsumele

Edward Tsumele

The South African film industry is disappointed after this year's Oscars' committee snubbed the highly rated local film, Jerusalema.

Jerusalema, punted as one of the potential Foreign Language Film of the Year category candidates for the Oscars, was pushed aside in favour of films from Israel, Germany, France, Japan and Austria.

Instead of Jerusalema, the selectors chose The Baader Meinhof Complex (Germany), The Class ( France), Departures (Japan), Revanche (Austria) and Waltz with Bashir (Israel).

The snubbing has not impressed the local film industry. Featuring some of the leading lights in local acting - notably Rapulana Seiphemo and Kenneth Nkosi - the movie was a huge hit on the local circuit.

The nominees for the 81st Oscars were announced on Saturday by Academy president Sid Ganis and Oscar winner Forest Whitaker. The awards ceremony takes place next month.

The South African Academy Awards Selection Committee and The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) "have learned with disappointment that Jerusalema has not been nominated for the Oscars by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

"We are obviously disappointed that the film was not selected for the Oscars. It is now for us to look into the future and prepare for other competitions like the Pan African Film Festival taking place in Burkina Faso at the end of February," said Eddie Mbalo, chief executive officer of the NFVF.

Written and directed by Ralph Ziman and produced by Tendeka Matatu, Jerusalema is a compelling epic that takes an unwavering and blisteringly stylised look at crime, corruption, and other transgressions in the new South Africa.

The film was released to both box office and critical acclaim at the end of August last year and enjoyed a highly successful theatrical run in South Africa, making about R4416 000 since its release across the country, according to Ster-Kinekor.

It also received a great reception from audiences and film critics when it premiered at the Berlin Film Festival last year. It was later well received at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival.

Next month it will open the Los Angeles Pan African Film Festival.