The Israel solidarity dress that had the Baftas all sewn up

The story of the Jewish father of the atomic bomb swept the awards


V Two moments shone out at Sunday’s 2024 Baftas. Oppenheimer was the big winner, taking seven awards – but economist and author Noreena Hertz vanquished all in the sartorial department with her Israel “solidarity” dress.

Hertz wore the white-and-blue Israeli-designed gown as she joined her executive producer husband Danny Cohen, whose Shoah film The Zone of Interest picked up three awards.

London-based Hertz collaborated with Israeli designer Shai Shalom to create the dress, and says she received compliments from actors including Cate Blanchett, Bryce Dallas Howard and Samantha Morton at the event at the Royal Festival Hall.

Christopher Nolan’s film about the Jewish theoretical physicist known as the “father of the atomic bomb”, J Robert Oppenheimer, led the 77th British Academy Film Awards with 13 nominations. Last month the film, starring Irish actor Cillian Murphy, was victorious at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards, and has 13 Academy Award nominations.

Robert Downey Jr picked up the best supporting actor gong for his role as Atomic Energy Commission chair Lewis Strauss, having won his last Bafta trophy 31 years ago for Chaplin – setting a record for the longest gap between wins by an actor. The Iron Man actor wore a “chai” necklace when he attended the Santa Barbara International Film Festival earlier this month.

Also a big success at this year’s Baftas ceremony, which took place at the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank on Sunday, was The Zone of Interest. The chilling Holocaust film took home three awards from its nine nominations – best sound, best film not in the English language, and outstanding British film. Its director, Jonathan Glazer, grew up in Hadley Wood and lives in Camden.

Maestro, the Leonard Bernstein biopic that tells the complex love story between the American composer and conductor and his wife, had seven nominations including for best picture, actor (Bradley Cooper) and actress (Carey Mulligan), but received no trophies on the night.

Another film with Jewish roots recognised at the ceremony was Barbie, the hit film based on the  The blonde-haired, long-legged Barbie came to life thanks to Ruth Moskowicz, the daughter of a Polish blacksmith who in 1959 coined the idea for a hyper-feminine doll and named it after her daughter Barbara – although Oppenheimer’s blockbuster rival had no wins from its five nominations.

The Baftas also threw the spotlight on two short films with Jewish connections British-Israeli film-making couple Karni Arieli and Saul Freed’s Wild Summon, an eco-fantasy about the life cycle of a wild salmon; and Gorka, a moving piece directed by Joe Weiland about the power of human connection starring Jewish writer and comedian David Baddiel. Both shorts received nominations

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