Short Israeli Film Focusing on Racism Nominated for an Oscar

A short Israeli film focusing on racism and examining the lives of African migrants and asylum-seekers in the country, White Eye, directed by Tomer Shushan, was nominated on Monday, March 15, for an Oscar award in the Best Live Action Short Film category, after being selected from a shortlist of ten films. The 93rd Academy Awards ceremony, known as the Oscars, will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, on April 25.

Dawit Tekelaeb, left, and Daniel Gad star in the Israeli Oscar contender White Eye.

Dawit Tekelaeb, left, and Daniel Gad star in the Israeli Oscar contender White Eye. (Photo: White Eye Facebook page)

The movie, shot in a single take, tells the intense story of a young man’s nighttime odyssey in south Tel Aviv after he comes across a locked bicycle that was recently stolen from him. The protagonist accuses an African worker of having stolen it, and then discovers that the truth of what happened is more complex.

The lead character of the 20-minute-long film is Omer, played by Daniel Gad. At the start of the film, Omer spots a bicycle that had been recently stolen from him during a beach outing. While he tries to repossess the bike by sawing off its lock, Yunes (Dawit Tekelaeb), a black Eritrean migrant who is taking a break from his job in a nearby meat packaging plant, spots Omer and claims that he owns the bike which he had bought for 250 shekels ($75).

Omer calls the police and two officers — one wearing a kippah (religious skull cap) — discover that Yunes has overstayed his visa. This means that he, his wife and child are likely to be deported to their strife-torn native land. Suffering pangs of conscience, Omer walks over to a nearby ATM and withdraws 250 shekels, then hands the cash to Yunes. The final scene — featuring a twist — is based on the director Shushan’s personal experience.

In a recent phone interview, Shushan related how he chose the film’s title in reference to “white eye,” an affliction of the blind, implying that many of his fellow Israelis are blind to the racial bias in their country.

More on the film White Eye: