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January 30, 2009

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PAGE 18A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 30, 2009 i By Kelly Hartog LOS ANGELES (JTA)-- The day before Ari Folman accepted the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Lan- guage Film for his animated documentary "Waltz With Bashir." he was talking to a packed house at Hollywood's Arclight Theatre following a screening of the movie. The 45-year-old film- maker appeared somewhat bemused by all the hoopla. after eight months of travel- ing the world with the film and attending dozens of festivals. "When Sony bought the film they told me. 'You have to come over for awards season.'" Folman recalled. "1 didn't know what that meant. But now I see that there is an NBA season, an NFL season and an awards season. It's like every two days there's a game. You're competing with the same films and the same directors. Some days they win, Some days I win. It's like you're all really obsessed with prizes." Folman called "Waltz With Bashir" his anti-war movie. "' This film was complicat- ed because on the one hand I wanted to show war in a very non-glorifying way," he said. "Unlike those American anti-war movies where they tell their kids: 'War sucks but the guys in the movie are really cool.' And the kids take it the wrong way. They say, 'Yes, war sucks, but [ want to go to Iraq and die for my country.' On the other hand, it was essential that the Israeli soldiers weren't shown as victims." Folman was only 19 when he served in Lebanon during the time of the massacres in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. But he didn't return yearning to make a Mitchell From page 2A left say the appointment of a renowned negotiator like Mitchell may signal the administration won't limit itself to mere crisis man- agement. "Someone of his stature would indicate a greater seri- ousness and determination," said Diane Balser, execu- tive director of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom. "If he is appointed, he would be an envoy of real stature." Jewish voters, if not the ma- jor pro-Israel groups, would support a major peace thrust by someone like Mitchell, she said. "Jews voted overwhelming- ly for President Obama--and they knew they were voting for a candidate who stresses diplomacy and not military Filmmaker reveals 'Waltz With Bashir' backstory film about his experiences. In fact, he could barely re- member them, which is what forms the basis of the movie. I all started a little more than four years ago, when he was looking to get out of his annual military reserve -duty. "I was not a big fighter." he confessed. "I was a screen- writer, and my job in the army was to write short in- struction mov]es, like 'How to defend yourself from an Iranian nuclear attack in 60 seconds.' I had an agreement with the army: I didn't have to wear a uniform, I didn't have to get out of bed. and [in return] they could call me whenever they wanted." Folman said the army was always calling him at inop- portune times, including in the delivery room when his wife was giving birth, so he told them he wanted out. He ended up being released early--the Israeli army doesn't release its soldiers until they are 50 but only after agreeing to meet with an army therapist and dis- cuss his experiences. "It was the first time I heard myself speak about what I went through, and although I had the main sto- ryline there were definitely black holes." he recalled. "I started talking to my close friends about it. We were all the same age and had been in the army at the same time, and I realized I knew noth- ing about their experiences either." After hearing the recol- lections of a soldier named Boaz who had to shoot 26 dogs in Lebanese villages to silence barking that would have warned the villages' residents of IDF intruders. the idea for the film was born. A dream sequence involv- ing Boaz and the 26 dogs he killed became the film's opening sequence. Folman waded through more than 100 recordings of soldiers after placing an ad online asking those who served in Lebanon in the first three months of the war to come forward and tell their stories. Nine of those made it into the film, and only two of the stories are voiced by ac- tors, rather than the original protagonists. Folman says he always intended to make "Waltz With Bashir" as an animated film. "When you look at ev- erything that there is in this film lost memory, memories of war, which are probably the most surreal things on earth, dreams, subconscious, drugs, hal- lucination it was the only way to combine one fluid storyline," he said. "If it was a classic documentary, it would have shown middle- aged men telling their war experiences and it would have to be covered with foot- age that you could never find and wouldn't come close to resembling what they went through. It would be a bor- ing film. And if you made a big action movie with the budget of an Israeli movie, that would just be sad." The film was first screened in Israel in June 2008. While it generated enormous dis- cussion. Folman says, it wasn't of the political nature he expected. "I thought people would call it a left-wing anti-Zionist film and that didn't happen," he said. "And more than that, the film became the darling of the establishment." The Israeli response, ac- cording to Folman, was positive for two reasons: It made Israel Iook like a tolerant country, allowing soldiers to talk openly about their experiences in the war, and when it was screened in Europe it made many people there realize for the first time that it wasn't the Is- raeli troops that committed the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacres. "They didn't pull the trig- ger; it was the Christian regime," Folman said. "And this is the type of propagan- da the Israeli government couldn't buy for money. So they kept sending the movie -out." solutions. They understood they were voting for a break with current policy." But JINSA's Shoshana Bry- en said picking a high-profile envoy like Mitchell would be a "mistake of extraordinary .proportions" because it ig- nores dramatic changes in the region, including growing rifts in the Arab world and the growing involvement of Iran in the region. The constella- tion has shifted so much that you need new thinking." Appointing a high-level envoy like Mitchell, she said, points to a return to the out- moded policies Of the Clinton administration. Some analysts say the goal posts have been moved by pro-Israel groups that have become accustomed to a Bush administration that made sweeping statements about Mideastpeace and Palestinian statehood while letting Israel go its own way. Major pro-Israel groups "tend to favor the kind of me- diator with the least prospects of success," said MJ Rosen- berg, a longtime pro-Israel activist and policy director for the Israel Policy Forum (IPF). "George Mitchell worries them because he was so suc- cessful in Northern Ireland, a success that was built on his persistence and his utterly im- partiality.., and a deal means Israeli concessionswhich they have never favored. The stron- ger the candidate for envoy or mediator--the more of an honest broker he or she would be the more uncomfortable they are." Reprinted with permission from the New York Jewish Week. Filmmaker Ari Folman in The refugee camps were in Lebanese territory Under Israeli control, but the attacks were carried out by Lebanese Christian fighters allied with Israel. An Israeli investiga- tive commission following the massacres found that though Israeli officials did not have a hand in organizing the massacres, which left at least hundreds dead, they bore indirect responsibility for fail- ing to anticipate the violence and allowing the Christian fighters into the camps. Then;defense minister Ariel Sharon resigned his post as a result. "The only place where the film did not do well was in Stirs/Creative Commons September 2008 at the film festival in Telluride, Colorado. Germany, where the public was obsessed with the com- parison of the Sabra and Shatilla massacres to the Holocaust." Folman said. "It's no coincidence "that there are t~wo strong refer- ences to the Holocaust in the film." said Folman. himself the son of survivors. "The Holocaust is in every Israeli's DNA. That's why the biggest demonstrations in Israel happened after Sabra and Shatilla, because it sparked memories of our past. People realized something was ter- ribly wrongbecause that massacre took place with the support and collaboration of the Israeli government." Fielding questions from the audience about how the film might be able inform the current war in Gaza, Folman said he doesn't be- lieve that films can change the world. "I do think they can build small bridges, but I don't think they can change public opinion. Israelis love thisfilm be- cause it shows what war really is. but," he said, talking about the current war in Gaza, "they say 'Sometimes you have to do what you have to do.' That's very Israeli. "So unfortunately, my film did not change anything." COS From page 1A help select something special for this display. Following the tribute, the Photo Gallery of Presidents will be unveiled, and the party will continue with a casual barbecue dinner and dancing. "We have made every ef- fort to Create an event that will be meaningful, fun and affordable for everyone," says Sharon White. COS fundrais- ing chair. "We hope this will be a memorable evening for our honorees and a successful fundraiser for our congrega- tion. The entire community is invited to join us." For more information, Steven Newman, immedi- ate past-president of COS. contact Phil Wolgel. executive director at COS at ExecDir@ Sara Stern is the current COS president. or 407-298- 4650. COS Past Presidents A. Stetner~ 1917-1918 Perry Weinberg, 1918-1919 Harry Weinstein, 1919-1920 Harry Kanner, 1920-1924 Albert Raffeld. 1924-1925 Sol Wittenstein, 1925-1928 Harry Stahlberg, 1928-1935 Barney Cohen, 1936-1937 Joseph K. Wolf. 1937-1940 Hy Roth, 1940-1942 I.J. Jimmy Becker, 1942-1944 Lou Jacob. 1944-1945 Morris Lefkowitz, 1945-1946 Sidney Gluckman, 1946-1948 A.J. Abe Haimowitz, 1948-1949 Prank Stein, 1949-1950 RaJph Meitin, 1950-1951 Sam Sulman. 1951-1952 Ben Glaser, 1952-1953 Abe Bornstein, 1953-1954 I.B. Bubba Lippton, 1954-1955 Alvin Savage, 1955-1956 Barney Cohen, 1956-1957 Mel Hess, 1957-1958 Barney Cohen, 1958-1959 Meredith Cohen, 1959-1961 Albert Rutberg, 1961-1965 Nathan Loeb, 1965-1967 Sam Bresnick. 1967-1968 Edwin Rosenfeld. 1968-1969 Maurice Shams, 1969-1972 Julius Haberman. 1972-1974 Barry Woods, 1974-1976 Art Moskowitz, 1976-1978 Roy Hecht, 1978-1979 Bob Gamson, 1979-1981 Bu~'t Chasnov, 1981-1983 Tom Wolfe, 1983-1985 Arnold Sager, 1985-1987 Stuart Kimball, 1987-1989 Edward Rosenblatt, 1989-1991 Mark Stone, 1991-1993 Sandra Salt, 1993-1995 James Grodin, 1995-1997 Bill Sholk, 1997-1999 Melody Apter, 1999-2001 Marc Feuerman, 2001-2002 Burt Chasnov, 2002-2004 Jeffrey Bornstein, 2004-2006 Steven Newman, 2006-2008 Sara Nathan Stern. 2008- Present