Director: Joseph Cedar

Footnote is a comedic satire that explores the awkward rivalry between two Talmudic Scholars, Eliezer Shkolnik and his son Uriel Shkolnik. Director Joseph Cedar pieces this award-winning film together beautifully, rendering it extremely engaging and surprisingly insightful.

In the process of wrapping up 30 years’ worth of Talmudic research, Eliezer Shkolnik’s thesis submission is beaten in by only a month, by the thesis of another researcher and thus left worthless. His greatest achievement becomes a footnote that cites him. After 20 years of being nominated for the esteemed Israel Prize, Eliezer gets a call informing him that it is his lucky year. The call, however, was meant for the other Shkolnik. Uriel and the Israel Prize committee, in the smallest possible room, discuss and throw a few punches over this mishap and Uriel eventually leaves with the coveted task of telling his father about the mistake.

Eliezer is a grump whose resentment for his son’s achievements in the Talmudic field is obvious from the beginning of the film. The media attention Eliezer receives for this award provides him with the prime opportunity to rip into the new generation of scholars and their methods of research, his son included. Though sacrifices are made on Uriel’s behalf, his own flaws and vices are not exactly excluded. Revelations are made throughout the film, though the final one during the award ceremony is left for the viewers to uncover.

Footnote explores human nature and our inevitable flaws which are not always overcome. There is no magic, idealism or heroes. Footnote instead provides honesty, antagonists and a dedication to sneakers on the part of Eliezer, who also offers the wisdom that “one cannot draw evidence from fools. In reality, nothing is nice.”

Sam Allen
This article first appeared in Issue 8, 2012.
Posted 5:04pm Sunday 22nd April 2012 by Sam Allen.