Jonathan Glazer condemns violence in Gaza and Israel in Oscars speech

British filmmaker Jonathan Glazer, accepting the Academy Award for best international feature on Sunday, denounced the bloodshed in the Middle East and asked the audience to consider how it could “resist” the “dehumanization” of the war in Gaza.

Glazer received the Oscar for “The Zone of Interest,” a drama that follows Nazi commandant Rudolf Höss and his family as they attempt to build an idyllic life right outside the walls of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland during the Holocaust.

The film, a co-production of the United Kingdom and Poland, pointedly avoids showing the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime inside Auschwitz, instead focusing on the day-to-day domestic routines of the Höss family.

“All our choices were made to reflect and confront us in the present — not to say, ‘Look what we did then,’ rather, ‘Look what we do now.’ Our film shows where dehumanization leads at its worst,” Glazer said, reading from prepared remarks. “It shaped all of our past and present.”

Glazer, who is Jewish, then said: “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 people.”

Inside the Dolby Theatre, many in the audience could be seen cheering and applauding. Sandra Hüller, the German actor who portrayed Höss’ wife, Hedwig, appeared to be crying and put her hand to her chest.

Glazer went on to say: “Whether the victims of October the 7th in Israel or the ongoing attack in Gaza, all the victims of this dehumanization, how do we resist?”

96th Academy Awards Live Telecast
Johnathan Glazer during the 96th Academy Awards on Sunday.Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

He dedicated his Oscar to Aleksandra Bystroń-Kołodziejczyk, a Polish member of the World War II resistance. In the film, a young girl inspired by Bystroń-Kołodziejczyk secretly transports apples to starving Jewish prisoners at Auschwitz.

Glazer’s comments represented the most direct commentary on the war in the Middle East during the awards ceremony.

In recent months, most presenters and winners at other Hollywood award shows have not explicitly referred to the conflict. However, Billie Eilish, Mark Ruffalo and Ramy Youssef wore red pins on the Oscars red carpet symbolizing calls for a cease-fire.

James Wilson, a producer of “The Zone of Interest,” addressed the violence during an acceptance speech at the 77th British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs) in London last month.

In his speech, Wilson said in part that “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 or in Israel.”

Glazer’s comments on Sunday immediately stirred debate online, where some social media users objected to his message, misquoted him or accused him of having refuted his Jewish identity.

The video of Glazer’s speech was not available on the verified YouTube channel for the Oscars, though some entertainment news outlets uploaded it.

“The Zone of Interest,” loosely based on a novel by Martin Amis, drew international acclaim when it was released in theaters last year. It was up for five Oscars, including best picture and best director, and it won two: best international feature and best sound.

Glazer’s previous feature films are “Under the Skin” (2013), “Birth” (2004), and “Sexy Beast” (2000). He is also known for directing stylish music videos for artists such as Radiohead, Massive Attack and Blur.

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