Waltz With Bashir (Vals Im Bashir) is a 2008 Israeli animated autobiographical docudrama by Ari Folman that is based on his experiences as a soldier during the First Lebanon War in 1982. The film is directed, written, and produced by Ari Folman, who also stars in the film as himself (Folman, 2008; IMDB, n.d.). With a budget of approximately $1.5 million, the film has grossed approximately $2.1 million (Rotten Tomatoes, n.d.; IMDB, n.d.)
Waltz with Bashir (2008) had its world premiere at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival on May 15, 2008. Following its premiere, Waltz With Bashir (2008) embarked on a worldwide film festival campaign. Waltz with Bashir (2008) was screened at the Annecy Animation Festival (6/9/2008) in France; Filmfest Munchen (6/20/2008-6/28/2008) in Germany, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (7/4/2008-7/12/2008) in the Czech Republic; Auckland International Film Festival (7/10/2008-7/27/2008) in New Zealand; Puchon International Film Festival (7/18/2008-7/27/2008) in South Korea; Palic European Film Festival (7/19/2008-7/25/2008) in Serbia -- Waltz with Bashir was awarded the Golden Tower at the Palic European Film Festival; Melbourne International Film Festival (7/25/2008-8/10/2008) in Australia; Sarajevo International Film Festival (8/15/2008-8/23/2008); Telluride International Film Festival (8/29/2008-9/1/2008) in the United States; Toronto International Film Festival (9/4/2008-9/13/2008) in Canada; Ottawa International Film Festival (9/17/2008-9/21/2008) in Canada; New York Film Festival (9/26/2008-10/12/2008) in the United States; Warsaw International Film Festival (10/10/2008-10/19/2008) in Poland -- won the Audience Award; London International Film Festival (10/15/2008-10/30/2008) in the United Kingdom; and Filmex Tokyo International Film Festival (11/17/2008-11/25/2008) in Japan -- awarded Grand Prize; Gijon International Film Festival (11/20/2008-11/29/2008) in Spain (Waltz With Bashir, n.d.).
Following its worldwide film festival campaign Waltz With Bashir (2008) was nominated and presented with a series of awards internationally. These awards include: Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes; Best Animated Feature by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association; Best Foreign Language Film and Best Picture by the National Society of Film Critics; Best Animated Feature at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards; Best Foreign Independent Film at the British Independent Film Awards; Best Israeli Picture at the Israeli Film Critics Awards; Golden Tower at the Palic European Film Festival; Audience Award at the Warsaw International Film Festival; Best Film, Director, Screenplay, Editing, Art Direction, and Sound Design at the Ophir Israeli Academy Awards; Best Picture at the International Documentary Association Awards; Best Foreign Language Film at the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards; Best Composer (Max Richter) at the European Academy Awards; Grand Prize at the Tokyo Filmex Festival; Special Jury Prize at the Tallinn Film Festival; and the Special Young Jury Prize for Best Art Direction a the Gijon International Film Festival.
Waltz With Bashir (2008) is based on Folman's personal experiences during the First Lebanon War in 1982 and his quest to attempt to remember the events that transpired while he was serving in the Israeli military as part of the Israel Defense Forces. The film begins approximately 20 years after a massacre in September 1982 as Folman attempts to regain his memories of the war after suppressing them for so many years. The impetus for Folman's quest begins when one of his fellow former soldiers recounts a recurring dream that he has about his time as an Israeli Defense Force serviceman; Folman is surprised at himself because as someone that participated in the same conflict, he has no recollection of what happened and has suppressed this time in his life. At the suggestion of a friend, Folman begins to seek out other survivors of the conflict. Among the people Folman reaches out to are Ori Sivan, an Israeli filmmaker who has worked with Folman on two previous films; Ronny Dayag, a First Lebanon War veteran and food engineer who moved to the Netherlands after the war; Schmuel Frenkel, another First Lebanon War veteran who was formerly a commander of an infantry unit during the conflict; Zahara Soloman, an Israeli psychologist who specializes in psychological trauma and provides Folman insight into why memories may be suppressed after traumatic experiences; Ron Ben-Yishai, an Israeli journalist who was the first to report on the massacre; and Dror Harazi, a First Lebanon War veteran who commanded a tank brigade stationed outside the Shatila refugee camp (Folman, 2008). By interviewing and conversing with these individuals, who played themselves in the film, Folman reconstructs his memory of the events -- the film concludes with the inclusion of real footage of the aftermath of the massacre (Folman, 2008).
Waltz With Bashir (2008) is Folman's fourth film, and second documentary. Sha'anan Si (1991) that focuses on the Gulf War; Saint Clara (1996) is drama that revolves around a young girl imbued with supernatural powers that allow her to predict the future; and Made in Israel (2001) is a futuristic fantasy that focuses on the hunt for the last surviving Nazi on Earth. Unlike his previous films, Waltz With Bashir (2008) is based on Folman's personal experiences and perspective during the First Lebanon War.
Waltz With Bashir (2008) is situated in an interesting place in Israeli cinema. Three major film genres that have influenced Israeli cinema are the Western, in which a fight between good and evil is depicted and the good forces reinforce values and morals held in high regard by his or her society and aims to save civilization by defeating anything or anyone that would pose a threat to these mores; the historical epic, in which the achievements and heroes that led a nation to victory are celebrated; and war films, which encourage nationalism and are sometimes used as propaganda. War films emphasize the alienation of an enemy, aim to vilify said enemy, and "find nobility in the actions of one's own forces" (Langweiler, 2007). Within Israeli cinema, war films can be further subdivided into two categories: bourekas films and anti-war films. Bourekas films often focus on the conflicts between Israel's ethnicities and celebrated the triumphs of Jewish people; this genre was popular in the 1960s and 1970s (Langweiler, 2007).
Waltz With Bashir (2008) contains elements of each of these three different genres. As a Western, the film showcases the conflict between Israeli and Palestinian communities with Folman and his compatriots being led to believe that they are fighting for "good." As a historical film, Waltz With Bashir (2008) is the antithesis of traditional historic films as it does not celebrate his accomplishments as a soldier, or the accomplishments of Israeli Defense Forces, but rather, Folman demonstrates that his experiences and past haunts him, which is why he has suppressed the memories. Moreover, Waltz With Bashir (2008) highlights the lasting impact of war and is rife with anti-war sentiments. This can be seen through the film's editing and style. While much of the film recounts Folman's experiences through animation, which helps to personalize the film, the utilization of raw footage of the aftermath of the massacre in September 1982. By humanizing the events that transpired, Folman's journey to recover his memory transforms into an anti-war film.
Waltz With Bashir (2008) is a compelling film due to its style and subject matter. The graphic novel inspired animation allows Folman to tell his story from his point-of-view without it being diluted or corrupted by an actor who did not experience these events first hand. Furthermore, the graphic novel animation allows Folman to tell his story in a non-linear fashion without taking away from the narrative. Folman is able to successfully relay his experiences as a soldier during the First Lebanon War and the journey to recover his memory by including credible characters such as fellow war veterans, a psychologist, and a journalist to back up Folman's experiences and his views. While not implicitly a narrative device, Folman's amnesia works to demonstrate the heinousness of war; he cannot recollect certain events because of the lasting impact they had on his psyche. The film successfully…