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‘The Zone Of Interest’ Executive Producer Danny Cohen On Jonathan Glazer’s Oscar Speech: “I Just Fundamentally Disagree”

Danny Cohen, executive producer of Jonathan Glazer’s Holocaust drama The Zone Of Interest, has said he “fundamentally disagrees” with the director’s politically-orientated Oscars acceptance speech.

Accepting the International Feature Oscar last Sunday, Glazer spoke at length and highlighted what he described as the shared ideology behind the film’s subject matter and contemporary world events.

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“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.’ Our film shows where dehumanization leads at its worst. It shaped all of our past and present,” Glazer said.

“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. Whether the victims of October the. Whether the victims of October the 7th in Israel or the ongoing attack on Gaza, all the victims of this dehumanization, how do we resist? Aleksandra Bystroń-Kołodziejczyk, the girl who glows in the film, as she did in life, chose to. I dedicate this to her memory and her resistance. Thank you.”

Glazer’s speech has since been widely reported on and discussed, with voices from across the political spectrum speaking out to praise and criticize the filmmaker.

Speaking in response on the Unholy podcast hosted by Yonit Levi of Israel’s Channel 12 News and Jonathan Freedland of The Guardian, Cohen, former Director Of BBC TV, said he believed it was important to note Glazer’s speech “upset a lot of people.”

“A lot of people feel upset and angry about it. And I understand that anger frankly,” Cohen said.

“A lot of people in the Jewish community who contacted me felt it was a remarkable and very important film. And tells the story of the Holocaust and forms an important piece of Holocaust education. And I think they’ve been upset by the sense they feel that has been mixed up with what’s going on now. Whether that was Jonathan’s intention or not.”

Cohen added: “I just fundamentally disagree with Jonathan on this. The war and the continuation of the war is the responsibility of Hamas, a genocidal terrorist organization, which continues to hold and abuse the hostages, which doesn’t use its tunnels to protect the innocent civilians of Gaza but uses it to hide themselves and allow Palestinians to die. I think the war is tragic and awful, and the loss of civilian life is awful, but I blame Hamas for that.”

When Freedland and Levi asked Cohen whether Glazer had informed him of his plans for the speech, he said no. The speech had been crafted, he understood, by Glazer and his longtime producer, James Wilson. Glazer and Wilson have yet to speak publicly about the discussion surrounding the speech.

Cohen concluded by saying The Zone Of Interest was one of the “most remarkable films in decades.” But he believed Glazer’s speech had become a “huge distraction” that overshadowed an “extraordinary triumph of filmmaking.”

Inspired loosely by Martin Amis’ 2014 novel of the same name and set outside the walls of Auschwitz during the Holocaust, the German-language Zone of Interest stars Christian Friedel and Sandra Hüller (also a Best Actress nominee tonight for Anatomy of a Fall) as Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss and his wife Hedwig, as they strive to build a dream life for their family in a house and garden separated from the Nazi concentration and extermination camp by a only a short wall. What is happening on the other side is rarely hinted at.

The Zone of Interest also picked up the Best Sound Oscar for Tarn Willers and Johnnie Burn.

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