Director Jonathan Glazer calls out Gaza 'dehumanisation' in Oscars speech

Glazer's The Zone of Interest, winner of Best International Film, is set during the Holocaust

English director Jonathan Glazer accepts the award for Best International Feature Film for The Zone of Interest during the 96th Annual Academy Awards. AFP
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Explicit links between an Oscar-winning film and the conflict in Gaza were called out by the movie's winning director at the 96th Academy Awards.

The German-language film The Zone of Interest, which is set during the Holocaust, won the Best International Film award in Los Angeles.

During his acceptance speech, director Jonathan Glazer said the film showed “where dehumanisation leads at its worst”.

He said: “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'.”

The film tells the disturbing story of a group of people living near the Auschwitz concentration camp in Nazi-controlled Poland during the Second World War, who block out the horrors happening nearby and lead apparently normal lives.

“Our film shows where dehumanisation leads at its worst,” Glazer continued. “It shaped all of our pasts and present. Right now, we stand here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation that has led to conflict for so many innocent people.

“Whether the victims of October 7 in Israel or the ongoing attack on Gaza, all the victims of this dehumanisation. How do we resist?”

The mention of Gaza was met by loud applause from the audience in Los Angeles.

The film also won Best British Film at the recent Baftas. In his acceptance speech, British producer James Wilson named conflicts in Gaza and Yemen as explicitly tied to the film's themes.

“A friend wrote [to] me, after seeing the film the other day, that he couldn’t stop thinking about the walls we construct in our lives which we chose not to look behind,” Wilson said on stage.

“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 killed in Mariupol or in Israel,” Wilson added to a roar of applause.

Updated: March 11, 2024, 11:48 AM