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Pro-Israel ‘Zone of Interest’ Producer Len Blavatnik Did Not Sign Off on Jonathan Glazer’s Oscars Statement (Exclusive)

As Oscar night fades in the rearview, arguments over who got robbed and who had the nicest dress continue to recede. One story, however, continues to rage on — a backlash (and backlash to the backlash) to the acceptance speech given by Jonathan Glazer alongside producers James Wilson and Len Blavatnik when The Zone of Interest won for best international film. THR has learned that that, even though Glazer claimed to speak for all three of them, he had not run his comments by Blavatnik, according to a spokesperson for the billionaire.

Glazer, The Zone of Interest’s writer-director, said (and it’s important to get this right) that his Auschwitz-set movie “shows where dehumanization leads at its worst” and continued “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 innocent people,” in reference to the conflict in the Middle East. The clearly emotional Glazer added, “whether the victims of October the 7th in Israel and the ongoing attack on Gaza.”

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Many immediately seized on this, angry that Glazer would “refute his Jewishness.” We’ll give some people the benefit of the doubt that they misheard or misinterpreted his statement, which, admittedly, could have been phrased a little less ambiguously. Glazer was, most would say, pointing the finger at those he feels exploit Jewish history and Jewish sentiment for a policy he disagrees with, not declaring, “I am no longer a Jew!”

The subsequent screaming and yelling (why, oh why, do any of us go online?) left one unusual contour to this story overlooked.

Joining Glazer on the Oscars stage, representing the “we” of his remarks, were producer Wilson and executive producer Blavatnik. Wilson, while accepting a BAFTA earlier this year, commented 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” — a statement very much simpatico with what Glazer had to say.

Blavatnik’s situation is a bit more unusual. The 66-year-old billionaire, born to a Jewish family in Soviet-era Ukraine and who now holds British and American citizenship, last made news in December when he announced a withholding of donations to Harvard following the controversy surrounding its then-president Claudine Gay and accusations of leniency toward antisemitism. (Harvard Medical School includes a Blavatnik Institute. If you’ve sat in the fancy seats at Carnegie Hall recently, you’ve been in the Blavatnik Family First Tier, and a visit to the Tate Modern in London probably included the Blavatnik Building; his name is all over the place.)

Blavatnik also owns a controlling stake in an Israeli television channel and, per eJewishPhilanthropy, is “a major donor to a number of Israeli and Jewish causes, including a Chabad-run food bank in southern Israel, the National Library of Israel and Birthright Israel.”

Though Blavatnik maintained a steely expression during Glazer’s speech, he had not been consulted on it. “No, he didn’t clear the speech,” says Lisa Shields, a spokesperson for Blavatnik, “but he’s incredibly proud of the film and the accolades it has received and he doesn’t want to distract from the important themes of the movie.”

Representatives for Glazer did not respond to THR’s request for clarification.

Blavatnik, who made his initial fortune by acquiring aluminum smelting facilities after the collapse of the Soviet Union, has diversified heavily into real estate, gaming and entertainment in recent years. He financed several Warner Bros. films in the 2010s, as well as Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge and Martin Scorsese’s Silence. He also purchased a large percentage in RatPac-Dune, which has since been absorbed into his wider company. (Both Brett Ratner and Steve Mnuchin were said to frequent his 164-foot yacht.) Blavatnik is listed as vice chairman of Warner Music Group, and his company, Access Entertainment, is an equity investor and co-financier with A24. As such, Blavatnik is credited as executive producer on several of the company’s recent and upcoming films, such as Beau Is Afraid, The Iron Claw, Love Lies Bleeding, Problemista and I Saw the TV Glow.

Those last two factor in a bit to the current disconnect. Problemista’s writer-director-star Julio Torres recently went on Late Night With Seth Meyers wearing a shirt reading “Viva! Viva! Palestina!” and I Saw the TV Glow’s writer-director Jane Schoenbrun has made comments on social media that make it quite evident that they are not exactly a supporter of Israel’s current strategy for national defense.

To put it in language Ben Shapiro might use, how did this guy — who gave $1 million to Trump’s inauguration fund, some of which made its way to Trump’s legal defense; made contributions to PACs associated with Mitch McConnell, Lindsay Graham and Marco Rubio; and who also gave to New York Mayor Eric Adams’ defense fund — end up becoming a patron to all these woke film directors?

It seems like the type of paradox somebody will one day make a movie about.

This story has been updated to include Len Blavatnik’s perspective.

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