ari folman waltz with bashir

Over on my Hebrew blog I asked four of the leading Israeli directors of 2008 to tell me what’s next for them in 2009. One of the was Ari Folman, whose “Waltz With Bashir” won Best Picture by The National Society of Film Critics and is the favorite to win the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film tonight. Folman has previously disclosed his intention on diving back into animation and named the adaptation of Stanislaw Lem’s 1971 novel The Futurological Congress as his next project. But now he reveals more on how that project will look:

Folman writes, exclusively for “Cinemascope”: “As a Science Fiction nut I knew, even as a kid, that Stanislaw Lem is the greatest. The Futurological Congress was always a novel I wanted to make into a movie but never knew how. Now that I was sucked into the world of animation I feel the time is right”.

Lem’s novel, as condensed by Wikipedia, begins when the hero, Ijon Tichy attends a Futurological Congress when “a riot breaks out and the hero, Ijon Tichy, is hit by various psychoactive drugs, which are being used as weapons by both the government and rebels. Ijon and a few others escape to the safety of a sewer beneath the Hilton where the congress was being held, and in the sewer he goes through a series of hallucinations and false awakenings which cause him to be confused about whether or not what’s happening around him is real. Finally, he believes that he falls asleep and wakes up 150 years later. The main part of the book follows Ijon’s adventures in the future world — a world where everyone takes hallucinogenic drugs, and hallucinations have replaced reality.”

So how will that translate into film? Folman elaborates:
“We’ll take elements from ‘Bashir’, mainly in how the story is structured, but instead of traveling backwards with the characters, this time we will travel forward, jumping into the future. The present will be shot in live-action, the future will be animated. The main character will be played by AN ACTRESS PLAYING HERSELF. The film is a coproduction between Israel, Poland and France. England may join in as well. The animation will be done by the studio we set up for ‘Bashir’, with Yoni Goodman as the director of animation, David Polonsky as the art-director and Yael Nachlieli as producer. The team will start works soon, and the preliminary development will start in March”.

In tonight’s Golden Globe Folman in nominated for “Waltz With Bashir”, but HBO’s “In Treatment” is based on a Israeli show that was co-scripted by him. In addition, this week back home sees the premiere of the third season of “Affair of the Week”, an Israeli TV drama series that Folman is its head writer. And “Bashir”’s Israeli DVD launch as well.

Even if Philippe Claudel’s “I’ve Loved You For So Long” steals the Golden Globe from Folman, “Bashir” is currently - as I see it - the front runner to win the Foreign Language Oscar, thus becoming the first Israeli movie to win an Academy Award. “Bashir” will be the second Israeli film in a row to be nominated for an Oscar after a 24 year dry spell. Interestingly, both last year’s “Beaufort” and this year’s “Bashir” deal with the trauma of the first Lebanon war. A trauma made relevant with the current fighting between the Israeli army and Hamas in Gaza, a conflict that if not resolved soon could be the basis of “Waltz With Bashir 2″ in 20 years.