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Movie About Talmudic Scholars Is No "Footnote" At NY Film Festival

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Everyone is a critic when it comes to movies, but when the subject matter is religious scholarship, like Joseph Cedar's "Footnote," the criticism can get a little unusual. NY1's Arts reporter Stephanie Simon filed the following report.

After winning for best screenplay at this year's Cannes Film Festival, "Footnote" is certainly not a small asterisk in the program here at the NY Film Festival.

A compelling and often humorous tale of family, rivalry and research, ""Footnote" was written and directed by Joseph Cedar, who was born in New York and raised in Israel.

"It’s about two philologists, two scholars, manuscript researchers, who find themselves competing for the same very, very important national award and they happen to be father and son as well," says Cedar.

The competing father and son are scholars of the Talmud, a central text of Jewish law and ethics. Cedar says Talmudists do not usually go the movies.

"And when they do, it’s because someone forced them to the theater. I think many who came to this were forced to," says Cedar.

Any while all moviegoers focus on the ending of a film, apparently the focus of Talmudic scholars goes well beyond the ending.

"I had a very interesting conversation with one who was trying to understand the logic behind the special thank yous at the end," says Cedar. "He said, 'How do you decide who came first?' And I said, 'There are three ways of doing it, by alphabetically or by order of importance or it's just random.' And his response was, 'No, it's never random. Nothing is ever random.'"

Cedar says no one was harmed in the making of the film, but even that statement has its own footnote.

"No one was injured during the making of film, but many, many egos of the actors and other people involved were harmed. That was very irreversible," he says.

As this film clearly shows, when it comes to family drama or biblical discussions, nothing is ever purely academic.

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