The TORRY AWARDS 2017

The Middle East and Israel in Film course at the University of Wyoming awards the TORRYS at the end of each term the course is taught. The awards memorialize the late Prof. Robert Torry, who taught English at the University of Wyoming for many years and who, together with Paul Flesher, introduced and taught a Film and Religion course. He is greatly missed.

Students make the nominations after we’ve seen all the films, and vote at the very end of the last session. Students have great leeway in nominating. Sometimes it is not clear to me that the scene or person nominated actually fits the category, and sometimes these unlikely nominations win. For example, the “real couple” in the Egyptian classic Ghazl al-Banat are the star, Leila Murad, and the aviator character played by her then-husband–and the director of the film. This would have been obvious to Egyptians viewing the film in 1949! But students saw the unlikely couple of Leila Murad–who plays the daughter of the Pasha–flirting with a poor school teacher who disingenuously falls in love with her, despite differences in age and social status that make this unthinkable. Perhaps this provides a window into the perceptions of these films amongst college students in Wyoming.

Most of the categories are carried over from previous terms in which I taught the course. Students have a chance to change the wording or to add or delete categories; some of the categories they’ve suggested are quite whimsical. I tried to keep the wording describing categories, scenes or people as close as possible to what the students nominated—although I made some minor edits.

Of the films screened in Spring 2017, the Turkish movie Mustang was the most popular among my students. A truck driver who helps the youngest sisters in the movie was voted the Best Hero. This is a great example of recognizing the importance of a character with only a few scenes, who nevertheless plays a key role.

Once upon a Time in Anatolia was selected for screening by students, from among numerous possibilities presented them in DVD cases, but was not enjoyed at all. One scene in the film was remembered as particularly pointless by our students. Nevertheless, the filmmaker is an important Turkish artist and the film raised a number of important points for discussion about the nature of filmmaking. It was the only nominee for Worst Film and the students nominated a scene in it as particularly pointless, involving an apple rolling down the hill. Of course, they had talked about the meaning of this scene at some length, and any time a scene sticks out and generates discussion—even if it appears pointless—it is a credit to the filmmaker’s art.

In a few categories, there was an opportunity to consider Israeli films separately from other films; for the most part, any film we screened was eligible.

“The Miracle” is a chapter in Rio I Love You, in which the topic is not Middle Eastern, but the filmmaker is Nadine Labaki, from Lebanon.

The voting for Best Israeli Movie was nearly tied; Or My Treasure was only slightly ahead of the other nominees. There was a tie for “most heart wrenching” scene.

Kazablan clearly won for best music. Not surprisingly, several of its hit numbers were nominated for best song. But the “Hashishat ‘albi” song in Where do we go now? won hands down—written by the husband of director and star Nadine Labaki.  The scene in which it is sung also won for Best Scene.

We did not show a documentary, but the students wanted to nominate and vote on two films for accuracy of depicting reality. The Egyptian comedy Terrorism and Kebab won for its depiction of the reality of oppressive bureaucracy.

I am not surprised that Zohar (Dana Ivgy) narrowly lost to the Lale character in favorite movie Mustang as best female character, although students clearly regarded Zero Motivation and Or  highly. Ivgy also ran against the Lale character, nominated for the child acting category as the teenager in the film Or. At the annual conference of the WJSA this year (2017) Ivgy spoke about some of her characters being the child of characters played by the late, great Israeli actress Ronit Elkabetz—whom she would call for advice about acting and address as “Mom” because of their relationship in the films. (I think she also played the child of her father Moshe Ivgy in a film, and a high school age child in Broken Wings.).  The Lale character though was an elementary school or early middle school aged character (Mustang).

Pleasing to me (and totally without prompting from me), one of the most memorable scenes in classic Israeli cinema, the cat and gefilte fish scene from Kazablan, was recognized by my students.

In the chart below, the winners in each category are underlined and in bold. The list of films we saw follows beneath the list of winners.

May Bob Torry’s name be remembered for a blessing.

MOST IMPORTANT FILM

Terrorism and Kebab

Where do we go now?

Zero Motivation

Mustang  

BEST VILLAIN

☐ Walid in Fauda

Uncle in Mustang

☐ Eye-glass General in Atomic Falafel

☐ The Lizard in The Lizard

☐ “Gulash” in Kazablan

BEST HERO

☐ Iranian Girl in Atomic Falafel

☐ German Guy in Atomic Falafel

Truck driver from Mustang        

☐ Ahmad (Adel Iman character) in Terorism and Kebab

BEST MOVIE (NON-ISRAELI)

Mustang

Where do we go now  

Marmulak (Lizard)

MOST POINTLESS SCENE

Apple rolling scene in Once Upon a time in Anatolia

BEST ISRAELI MOVIE

Zero Motivation

Atomic Falafel

Or My Treasure

Apples from the Desert

Footnote

BEST COMEDY

Atomic Falafel

Zero Motivation

BEST DRAMA

The Attack

Fauda

MOST HEART-WRENCHING SCENE

The Attack—Doctor finds out his wife was the terrorist

Final Scene in Or My Treasure     

Suicide in Mustang

(tie)

MOST HEARTWARMING SCENE

Ushpizin—friends come in to celebrate circumcision 

☐ “The Miracle”—in Rio I Love You Harvey Keitel character calls kid pretending he is God

☐ Dancing because they got the money scene, in Ushpizin

BEST COUPLE

Young Israeli teens from Atomic Falafel   

☐ Mom and German in Atomic Falafel

☐ Young Couple from Apples in the Desert

☐ Couple from Ushpizin

BEST MUSIC

Kazablan                 

Atomic Falafel

☐ Soundtrack of Terrorism and Kebab

BEST SONG

Hitchki from Atomic Falafel

Hashishat ‘Albi (the baking song) from Where do we go now?

☐ Respect song (Kol HaKavod) in Kazablan

☐ We are all Jews (Kulanu Yehudim) in Kazablan

Democratiah in Kazablan

☐ Rosa in Kazablan

BEST USE OF SILENCE AND/OR MUSIC

Footnote

Or – last scene

Katherine the Great

Zero Motivation—pauses

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Or

Where do we go now

Kazablan

Mustang

MOST ACCURATE HISTORICALLY

Terrorism and Kebab

Fauda

MOST SURPRISING MOMENT

Women changed religion in Where do we go now

☐ Suicide in Zero Motivation

☐ Trashcan Intercourse in Zero Motivation

☐ Carving the tattoo out in Zero Motivation

FAVORITE SCENE

☐ both generals pressing the button for nukes in Atomic Falafel

Where do we go now? when they are all united together

Baking scene in Where do we go now?     

☐ Wife says she is pregnant in Ushpizin

☐ Two girls find their teacher in Mustang

☐ “Whirlpool” of people in circling in Mugamaa in Terrorism and Kebab

BEST PICTURE

Atomic Falafel

Fauda

Kazablan

Ushpizin

Mustang    

BEST FEMALE CHARACTER

☐ Zohar (Dana Ivgy) in Zero Motivation

☐ Nadine Labaki in Where do we go now

☐ Daffy from Zero Motivation

☐ Possessed Russian from Zero Motivation

Lale from Mustang

BEST MALE CHARACTER

☐ Boyfriend (Elisha Banai character) in Apples from the Desert

☐ Ahmad (Adel Iman character) in Terrorism and Kebab

Doran (Lior Raz character) in Fauda

☐ Moshe in Ushpizin

WORST COUPLE

The Attack

☐ Walid and Cousin from Fauda

Ghazl al-Banat – Leila Murad and Hammam

BEST ACTOR/ACTRESS

☐ Shuli Rand

Dana Ivgy

☐ Nadine Labaki

BEST SOCIAL PERSPECTIVE

Apples from the Desert

Mustang

Ushpizin

Zero Motivation

WORST PICTURE

Once upon a time in Anatolia

BEST SHORT MOVIE OR CLIPS

West Bank Story

Katherine the Great

“The Miracle” in Rio I Love You  

BEST CHILD ACTING

Mustang

☐ Dana Ivgy in Or

Atomic Falafel – two Israelis and Iranian

FUNNIEST SCENE

Cat and Gefilte Fish in Kazablan

☐ Video track scene from Atomic Falafel

☐ Daffy staples herself in Zero Motivation

☐ Lale tells woman dress is shit colored in Mustang

☐ Suit Scene in Kazablan

 

FILMS WE SAW IN 2017

 


Once upon a time in Anatolia 2011
Nuri Bilge Ceylan http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1827487/

 

Mustang 2015
Deniz Gamze Ergüven http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3966404/

 

O Milagre” (The Miracle) in Rio I love you

Nadine Labaki http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1456606/

 

Or My Treasure 2004
Keren Yedaya http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0388311/

 

West Bank Story 2005
Ari Sandel http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0438575/

 

Footnote 2011
Joseph Cedar http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1445520/

 

Terrorism and Kebab 1992
Sherif Arafa http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1445520/

 

Catherine the Great 2011
Ana Kuntsman http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2092416/

 

Ushpizin 2004
Gidi Dar/Shuli Rand http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0426155/

 

Apples from the Desert 2014
Matti Harari, Arik Lubetski Savyon Liebrecht  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3955672/

 

Fauda 2015…
Avi IssacharoffLior Raz http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4565380/

 

Atomic Falafel 2015
Dror Shaul http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3830312/

 

Zero Motivation 2014
Talia Lavie http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3576084/

 

Marmulak (The Lizard ) 2004
Kamal Tabrizi http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0416960/

 

Where do we go Now? 2011
Nadine Labaki http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1772424/

 

The Attack 2012
Ziad Doueri http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0787442/

 

Arab Labor Season 1 episode 5 Passover 2007…
Syed Kashua http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0904447/

 

Ghazl al-Banat (Flirtation of Girls) 1949
Anwar Wagdi http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0184512/

 

Kazablan 1973
Menachem Golan http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0184512/

 

 

 

 

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