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Feature Film

Screening Waltz With Bashir

Today’s L.A. Times features a story on Waltz With Bashir, the sure-to-be-controversial animated feature from Israel, being screened at the Toronto International Film Festival tonight, and at the Ottawa Animation Festival on September 17th.

Waltz With Bashir is a documentary, spoken by veterans of a 1982 invasion of South Lebannon, woven into a narrative containing shocking violence (the film is a hard “R” rating) and potent graphic images. I had the opportunity to screen the film last week. It’s an effective anti-war film and a strong denouncement of the Israeli Army. The powerful story it tells transcends the technique – the animation is not the point here, it’s simply the medium to communicate the message. We all know animation is not just talking animals and can do more than tell jokes. Here’s a film that proves it. I admire Bashir, not as an animated film, but as an important film with significant things to say, that leaves you with lots to think about. It also pushes the artform into a bigger arena of filmmaking potential and points towards the possibilities of where else it can go.

  • Glad to hear a positive review of it from you, Jerry, I’m looking forward to seeing this one. Isn’t Sony Classics distributing it?

  • Ron

    It’s a terrific film, with lots to say on the many injustices of war. It’s a very rough film, comparible to Scorcese’s “Mean Streets” and “Taxi Driver.” And just as good (in many ways, even better).

  • “Waltz with Bashir” is more than a documentary, there’s some surreal elements, and a poethic atmosphere very original on it. Next to Persepolis is a sample of the new adult oriented animation feature style, with substance, with inteligence, and with beautiful drawings

  • Saturnome

    I hope it will be released soon around here. I’m tired of wating, all of my friends in Europe saw it.

  • matt

    It’s interesting that aside from the ‘surreal’ elements and palette & so on, the director said some of the participants wouldn’t concede to show their faces or have their real voices used, and therefore animation was a solution that achieved all these goals at the same time.

    I don’t think whether or not the animation itself is “well done” diminishes this film though. Which is not something I’d normally say. I think this sort of thing shows that “stretching the medium of animation” as Amid would say or “the drawings must be funny” as John K. would say are not always the prime concern or sometimes even necessarily appropriate. It does stretch things in as much as the suitable application of animation to a certain tone of storytelling beyond the norm, even if it doesn’t stretch the techniques or literal application itself – in these few cases I don’t think it’s a matter of laziness. The more variation the better I guess. So even if the animation IS completely subservient, it doesn’t always mean it should have been done live-action, for example. We can have BOTH types of animation. I hope that makes sense!

  • I can’t wait to see the film. I’m so glad that Sony has been picking up all these foreign animated films! i’ve only heard good things about waltz with bashir, i’m sure it’ll help knock the ‘animation is for kids’ mentality most americans have.

  • It’s a strong film, incredibly weighty and profoundly sad, and it uses its animation intelligently – the film is about historical memory, and to a certain degree using animation serves as a means of exploring the surreality of the historical events it depicts, and allows the filmmakers to draw lines between dreams/memories and historical fact.

    Notably, I saw this at Telluride Film Festival paired with a terrific experimental animation by Paul Vester titled In the Woods – politically controversial enough to have inspired one of the festival’s patrons to loudly declaim it, over the cheers of the crowd, during its first screening.