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'The Zone Of Interest' Director Jonathan Glazer Speaks Out On Gaza In Oscars Speech

“The Zone of Interest” director Jonathan Glazer called out Israel’s bombardment of Gaza while accepting the Academy Award for Best International Film, one of the only award winners Sunday to directly acknowledge the war in Gaza onstage.

“All our choices were made to reflect and confront us in the present, not to say: ‘Look what they did then’ — rather, look what we do now. Our film shows where dehumanization leads at its worst. It’s shaped all of our past and present. Right now, we stand here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation which has led to conflict for so many innocent people,” the British filmmaker said to applause. “Whether the victims of October the 7th in Israel or the ongoing attack on Gaza — all the victims of this dehumanization. How do we resist?”

Throughout this year’s film awards season, the team behind the film has been virtually the only major award winner to explicitly mention Gaza on Hollywood’s biggest stages, pointing out the present-day parallels to their film. Set during the Holocaust, the German-language film depicts the daily routines of a Nazi commandant and his family, living a life of comfort and privilege while overseeing the horrors of the Auschwitz concentration camp literally next door to their capacious home.

While winning the equivalent award at the BAFTA Awards last month, the film’s producer James Wilson similarly acknowledged the parallels to Gaza in his acceptance speech.

“A friend wrote me after seeing the film the other day that he couldn’t stop thinking about the walls we construct in our lives which we choose not to look behind,” Wilson said in his acceptance speech for Best Film Not in the English Language. “Those walls aren’t new, from before or during or since the Holocaust, and it seems stark right now that we should care about innocent people being killed in Gaza or Yemen, in the same way we think about innocent people being killed in Mariupol [in Ukraine] or in Israel … or anywhere else in the world. And thank you for recognizing a film that asks us to think in those spaces.”

Protesters demand an immediate and permanent cease-fire, and an end to the blockade of Gaza and the occupation of Palestine in Oscar Rally and March in Hollywood on Sunday in Los Angeles, California.
Protesters demand an immediate and permanent cease-fire, and an end to the blockade of Gaza and the occupation of Palestine in Oscar Rally and March in Hollywood on Sunday in Los Angeles, California. Gina Ferazzi via Getty Images

Glazer and Wilson’s comments have been a stark contrast to the relative silence on Gaza from most Hollywood luminaries throughout this awards season. In many ways, it’s not surprising, given how people across many industries, including entertainment, have faced career consequences for calling for a cease-fire or expressing support for Palestinians.

Still, the silence has spoken volumes, illustrating how political protest from Hollywood luminaries is often highly selective. Stars and filmmakers will use awards speeches to make rallying calls — but only for certain causes.

On Sunday, protesters calling for a cease-fire in Gaza delayed the start of the Oscars ceremony, blocking a major intersection where celebrities were exiting their cars to enter the Dolby Theater.

A handful of celebrities on the red carpet did acknowledge the conflict by wearing “Artists for Ceasefire” pins, including Mark Ruffalo, Billie Eilish, Mahershala Ali, Riz Ahmed and Ramy Youssef. In addition, “Anatomy of a Fall” actors Milo Machado Grenier and Swann Arlaud wore buttons featuring the Palestinian flag.

“Too many dead people since the 7th of October,” Arlaud told Vanity Fair on the red carpet. “It has to stop. It’s about humanity. Cease-fire.”

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