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Award-winning animated documentary 'Waltz with Bashir' to screen

RELEASED: Nov. 12, 2009

poster for Waltz with BashirEAU CLAIRE — "Waltz with Bashir," a feature-length animated documentary that was nominated for an Academy Award and won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film of 2008, will be presented Nov. 19-22 at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Described as "a memoir, a history lesson, a combat picture, a piece of investigative journalism and an altogether amazing film" by The New York Times, the movie will screen at 6 and 8:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday in Davies Theatre.

In "Waltz with Bashir," documentary filmmaker Ari Folman uses animation to reconstruct and come to terms with a massacre that occurred during Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon — a memory he had completely suppressed. His story begins one night at a bar, when an old friend tells the filmmaker about a recurring nightmare in which he is chased by 26 vicious dogs. Every night, he dreams of the same number of beasts. The two men conclude that the dream is connected to their Israeli Army mission — but Folman realizes that he is unable to remember a thing about that period of his life. He decides to meet and interview old friends and comrades around the world, to discover the truth about that time and about himself.

"The freedom of animation allows him to visualize what they tell him — even their nightmares," wrote film critic Roger Ebert. "The title refers to an Israeli soldier losing it and firing all around himself on a street papered with posters of the just-assassinated Lebanese President Bashir Gemayel — thus, waltzing with Bashir."

"The story is my very personal experience," Folman says. "It follows what I went through from the moment I realized that there were some major parts in my life completely missing from my memory. I went through a major psychologic upheaval during the four years I worked on 'Waltz with Bashir.'"

The film was first made as a live-action video, shot in a studio. That 90-minute film was converted to storyboards, and then redrawn from scratch. Some 2,300 illustrations were turned into new animation format that combined Flash, classic animation and 3D.

Critics universally praised the results. "Provocative, hallucinatory, incendiary, this devastating animated documentary is unlike any Israeli film you've seen," wrote the Los Angeles Times. "More than that, in its seamless mixing of the real and the surreal, the personal and the political, animation and live action, it's unlike any film you've seen, period."

"'Waltz With Bashir' not only breathes but it howls — and sobs and curses and croons and, in the end, when sound proves useless in the face of calamity, falls into awful silence," wrote the Boston Globe.

Subtitled in English, the 90-minute film is rated R.

Admission to the International Film Society presentation is free at the door with a Blugold Card or IFS membership. Memberships are available at the Service Center (715-836-3727) in Davies Center's east lobby.

More information about the campus film series is available online and at the Activities and Programs office, Davies Center 133.

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JS/DW

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