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Feature Film

Final Trailer for Ari Folman’s ‘The Congress’

Drafthouse Films released the final U.S. trailer today for The Congress, the 2013 live-action/animation hybrid directed by Ari Folman (Waltz with Bashir). In a sign of the times, the film will first be released onto iTunes/On Demand on July 24, followed by a limited theatrical release on August 29, and a New York release on September 5.

Not only does the film contain animation, its story, which tackles the ethical and philosphical dilemmas surrounding the use of digital actors, is also relevant to the animation community. The idea was inspired by Stanislaw Lem’s 1970s novel The Futurological Congress:

More than two decades after catapulting to stardom with The Princess Bride, an aging actress (Robin Wright, playing a version of herself) decides to take her final job: preserving her digital likeness for a future Hollywood. Through a deal brokered by her loyal, longtime agent (Harvey Keitel) and the head of Miramount Studios (Danny Huston), her alias will be controlled by the studio, and will star in any film they want with no restrictions. In return, she receives healthy compensation so she can care for her ailing son and her digitized character will stay forever young. Twenty years later, under the creative vision of the studio’s head animator (Jon Hamm), Wright’s digital double rises to immortal stardom. With her contract expiring, she is invited to take part in “The Congress” convention as she makes her comeback straight into the world of future fantasy cinema.

  • Inkan1969

    Who’s going to go see it in theaters if people can get it on on-demand instead?

    • Boop

      People who don’t have cinema-quality home theater set-ups?

    • Anon

      I agree. It’s really stupid to released it on-demand before its theatrical debut.

      • More people are likely to see it on iTunes than in any theatre on planet earth. It makes perfect sense for a small, niche film like this.

    • DangerMaus

      The film is probably going to have such a limited theater release that putting it out on Itunes first will have zero impact on the box office. Itunes is probably the only way most people would have been able to see the film in the first place.

      Anyone fortunate enough to be near a theater running this film would probably go and see it if they have any interest, regardless of its availability on Itunes.

      • nevilleross

        For my part, I’ll be seeing it on the big screen; I live in Toronto, which is a major big city (TIFF, Hollywood North, and a ton of other film festivals/events) and it also has theaters that will show this movie, in particular Tiff Bell Lightbox and the The Bloor Cinema (if it’s going to play there.) Of course, this all depends on the movie finding a Canadian distributor.

        • DangerMaus

          Yeah. That’s the downside of living in a small city like I do. There is one six screen multi-plex, Famous Players, and they are not very good at bringing in eclectic films like this one. Even if it had a Canadian distributor it would be unlikely to ever make it to my neck of the woods.

          I really don’t like big cities. Too expensive and too crowded, but the one advantage they do have is the population base to support film festivals and art house theatres.

  • b

    I saw the film and I thought it was a good movie… until the animation part.

    It just became weird and vague and the main character became very bland.

    The live action part had such strong acting and that amazing scene with Robin being scanned that the parts with animation just couldn’t heighten it.

  • Max C.

    I’ve seen this movie at the BFI festival and I liked it. The script may try too hard at times to be well-written but as a deconstruction of Hollywood’s greed and corporatisation it really works. I do wish they would show more of the animated footage in this trailer because the footage starting from 1:31 is from the climax of the film.

  • OdysseyTag

    The animation sequences look great – almost feel “trippy” and psychedelic in a good way – Will definitely watch it.

  • Matthew Broussard

    I’m not sure I follow — instead of capturing actor’s likenesses as realistic, digital 3D models, instead they become like cell-animated cartoon characters?

    • Max C.

      Actually, she takes a drug that covers up the harsh reality, bringing her to the “animated zone”. She sees Miramount as an empire, promoting some rubbish blockbuster with her digital likeness playing a character that does not suit her real career.

    • Joe

      The movie gets really vague and confusing by the time it gets to the animated parts, which is in the second hour of the film

    • Kris Åsard

      It’s a metafor.
      The plot of the movie is that, in the future, audiences have already had all the photorealistic 3D entertainment they can eat, so the “retro animation look” becomes the new dominant stylistic choice for augmented reality worlds.

  • DangerMaus

    This film looks intriguing.

  • popyea

    Definitely looks interesting. I must admit though, I’m slightly disappointed that they didn’t exploit the uncanny valley as commentary. Though I’m not sure if that would even suit the film, it’s just what I envisioned reading the synopsis.

  • the actual movie was a C-