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From the director of the Oscar nominated "Waltz with Bashir" comes "The Congress" - a Sci-Fi adaptation of Stanislaw Lem's novel

Animatorit is a new animation blog, focusing mainly on Israeli animation but also on international animated shorts. For an appetizer, Animatorit brings you the latest info on the new project by Ari Folman - director of the Oscar nominated "Waltz with Bashir". Who is Ari Folman? What was his first animated project? Who was cast in his new film? And why will half of it be live action and the other half animated?


If only I could have started with the second post, it all would have been so much easier. Without the pressure of introducing myself and my new blog. Usually I'm having the same feelings regarding films: I hate expositions. I'd rather read between the lines, work hard and solve plot gaps in my head, instead of watching it getting chewed by the screenwriters and the director.

But here I am, writing my own exposition.

Maybe that's the reason why I like short animated films so much: you must use your mind, your heart and your sense of style in order to figure out what the artist means. So now you know: I like the complex, lyric, moving films. But then again I also really do love the straight forward vulgar ones as well.

So where does it leaves us? Well... Only with a pure love of animation and cinema. Put everything in the pile, because we're set to go.

Some Facts:- The blog Animatorit will deal with animation. Well, most of the time. - Since I'm set in Tel-Aviv, it would also deal with Israeli animation. Yes, it exists. No, we don't ride on camels.- Animatorit, if you're wondering, is the Hebrew term for Female Animator.
- This blog has a sister-blog by the same name, in Hebrew.
- If you can read Hebrew, you're more than welcome to visit:

First post or not, I won't let you go empty handed. So here is the latest on Israeli animation news.


Ari Folman's "The Congress"

The Congress

Ari Folman, director of the Oscar nominated "Waltz with Bashir" is working on a new animated movie. This time in the English language.

"The Congress" is freely adapted from Stanislaw Lem's Sci-Fi novel "The Futurological Congress". Folman cast Robin Wright Penn ("The Princess Bride", "Forrest Gump") for the lead role, as her present and future self. While the film starts in the present, with 45 minutes of live action, the future sequences that follow are presented in animation. The animation sequences are there not only to represent a different time, but as a main part of the plot. It seems there's a reason why only the future is animated.

Waltz with Bashir.Waltz with Bashir. Folman's first animated feature.

Wright is not the only known actress in this production. As reported Earlier this week by slashfilm, Kodi Smit-McPhee ("Let Me In") will join the cast. Other names mentioned are Danny Huston, Paul Giamatti and Harvey Keitel.

"The Congress" will be Folman's second animated feature. His previous film was the strong and beautiful animated documentary "Waltz with Bashir", which was nominated for the 2008 academy awards for Best Foreign Language Film, and won the Golden Globes at the same category.

The King of Dreams.The King of Dreams. The first Israeli animated film.

"Waltz with Bashir" is only the second animated feature film ever produced in Israel. First was Yoram Gross's "The King of Dreams" ("Ba'al Hahalomot"), which aired in 1962. Gross's puppet animation film held the throne as the one and only Israeli animated feature, for almost 50 years, till Ari Folman came along. It was closely followed by a third animated film, the Israeli-Australian co-produced "$9.99" from Etgar Keret and Tatia Rosenthal.

$9.99$9.99. An Israeli-Australian co-production.

Although there are several animated features being worked on currently in Israel, my guess is that "The Congress" will be first at the finish line, and earn its place as the fourth animated feature in Israeli history.

Watch the beautifully executed scene, that gave "Waltz with Bashir" its name:

As for the technique - "Waltz with Bashir" was revolutionary since it was the first animated feature to use Adobe Flash as its main software tool. "The Congress" is reported to use the same technique. Folman continues with the Waltz team: David Polonsky as production designer and Yoni Goodman as animation director.

Here is a clip that explains what the movie is about, and also shows a short animated sequence:

Folman's choice of using live action in the movie, and not focusing on animation, is not really surprising considering Folman is not an animator. But through the topics of the films he directed, we can see that he was always drawn to documentary as well as fantasy. His first full length film, "Saint Clara" (1996) was a live action fantasy, a genre that is absent from the Israeli film industry almost entirely. "Saint Clara" was refreshing, and the first to herald of a new wave in Israeli cinematography. On 2004, Folman had his first experience with documentary animation, when he directed "The Material that Love is Made of", a TV series that tries to answer the question of why we fall in love. 

Saint ClaraSaint Clara. Folman's first feature.

Here you can see an animation sequence from the TV series. Although it's in Hebrew (without subtitles) you can still see how Folman and his crew developed the structure: an animation sequence followed by an interview, in which the interviewee is animated as well. On this particular sequence, the first speaker is the animated character of Ari Folman himself:

Back to Folman's new project. In "The Congress" Folman seemingly abandons his documentary roots and returns to his love for fantasy, this time in the genre of Sci-Fi (another genre almost completely neglected by Israeli cinema). However, "The Congress" still has a foot in real life: Robin Wright Penn plays herself, as a once-known actress who had seen better days.

Here is another clip in which Ari Folman is referring to the adaptation, and admits that Sci-Fi fans might criticize it, because in each draft of the script he turned away from Stanislaw Lem's original story further and further.

I like the idea of the artistic freedom Folman is talking about, and from what I've heard so far I found it rather intriguing.

Until next time, this is Animatorit signing out. <Blip>

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