Israel 2017, 113 mins.

Directed by Samuel Maoz

(Caution: These comments may contain plot spoilers)

Twenty years ago, Israeli writer/director Samuel Maoz refused to give his daughter the money to take a cab when she was running late for school. He sent her to a bus stop, hearing 20 minutes later that the bus line she was taking was hit by a terrorist attack. He would learn that she missed the bus, but for a terrifying window of time, his daughter was dead, and he felt some responsibility in sending her to that death. This unforgettable day became the inspiration for Maoz’s second film, the award-winning Foxtrot.

Foxtrot plays out in three acts, forming a triptych of loss, waste and grief. The first act follows parents who receive devastating news from army officials, possibly a follow-up to Maoz’s Golden Lion-winning breakthrough Lebanon (2009). The earlier film drew on his own traumatic experiences as a young Israeli soldier to deliver a simple but effective evocation of the senseless horrors of war, confined entirely to the cramped interior of a tank. Foxtrot similarly starts out as a claustrophobic chamber drama.


The second act takes place in a remote desert checkpoint on Israel’s northern border, where their son Jonathan lives with other soldiers. A Felliniesque sequence sees a young soldier dancing the foxtrot, using his rifle as a partner, dwarfed by the expansive blue sky above.

This ushers in a playful, melancholic reflection on the inanity of everyday modern military life.

The third and last act takes us back in the city where we re-join the parents, to whom fate has dealt a further blow.


The film won the Grand Jury Prize award at the Venice Film Festival in 2017. It was nominated for 13 Ophir Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Lead Actor and Best Supporting Actress.


Sara Steinke

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