‘Zone of Interest’ Financier Danny Cohen Rejects Jonathan Glazer’s Oscar Speech: “I Fundamentally Disagree”

The Zone of Interest executive producer and co-financier Danny Cohen has come out against director Jonathan Glazer’s 2024 Oscars acceptance speech, while defending the film itself as a “great piece of art.”

“It’s really important to recognize [the speech has] upset a lot of people and a lot of people feel upset and angry about it. And I understand that anger frankly,” Cohen, president of Access Entertainment, told the Unholy podcast on Thursday.

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In his prepared speech accepting the 2024 Academy Award for best international film, Glazer thanked his partners on The Zone of Interest, a film set during the Holocaust, and then made a statement addressing both his work and the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

“I think a lot of people in the Jewish community that contacted me felt that it was a remarkable and a very important film and in being so tells a story of the Holocaust and forms a very important part 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 [in Gaza], whether that was Jonathan’s intention or not to do that,” Cohen added.

Cohen also indicated Glazer did not alert him to, or consult beforehand on the content of his acceptance speech before the Academy Awards triumph. “Directors can do things on their own, I suppose. My understanding is he did it with Jim Wilson,” the film executive producer added of one of the film’s producers, James Wilson, who stood alongside Glazer onstage at the Oscars.

The British filmmaker said in his controversial speech that he refuted his “Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation” when accepting his Oscar.

Len Blavatnik, another of the film’s producers who also joined Glazer onstage at the Oscars, has said through a spokesperson that he also did not sign off on the acceptance speech. Amid the ongoing war in Gaza following the terrorist attacks by Hamas on southern Israel on Oct. 7, Cohen was adamant he stood fully behind Israel.

“I just fundamentally disagree with Jonathan on this. My support for Israel is unwavering. 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, and 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. And any discussion of the war without saying that lacks the proper context that any discussion should have,” Cohen said.

He added Glazer picked the wrong time and place to voice opposition to Israel’s conflict in Gaza.

“Listen, it’s his film. He can stand up there and choose his own words and that’s fine. He’s a strong person and I’m sure he’ll stand by those. But for me, it wasn’t the right time and didn’t have enough context and was a distraction from a great piece of art. But you know, Jonathan is really someone who allows his work to do the talking,” Cohen said.

“So I’m much more in favor of the film doing the talking than what you say on TV in 30 seconds in a heated environment,” Cohen added.

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