Ari Folman

Israeli Filmmaker, Waltz With Bashir
Winner of Golden Globe Award


"[Waltz With Bashir is] one of the most profoundly explosive animated documentaries I have ever seen, and is clearly one of the best pictures of the year."—New York Observer


"Waltz with Bashir peels the layers, strips away the beautiful, sensual, and erotic - the pulse of young men - to reach the heart of darkness. —New York Times


In the mid 1980s, after completing his military service, Ari Folman ventured out on his dream trip to circle the world with a backpack. Just two weeks and two countries into the trip, Ari realized traveling was not for him, so he settled into small guesthouses in Southeast Asia and wrote letters to his friends at home, letters in which he totally fabricated the perfect trip. One whole year of being in one place and writing down the fruits of his fantastical imagination convinced him to return home and study cinema. Now Folman is an award-winning director and filmmaker. His animated feature documentary Waltz With Bashir won the 2009 Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film, the Los Angeles Critics Film Association Award, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. A.O. Scott of the New York Times describes it as "a memoir, a history lesson, a combat picture, a piece of investigative journalism and an altogether amazing film." Waltz With Bashir was also published as a graphic novel by McMillan in 2009.

New York Times interview with Ari Folman

Guardian review of Waltz With Bashir

Folman’s newest film, The Congress, starring Robin Penn-Wright, Paul Giamatti, and Harvey Keitel, will be released in 2013. His other films include his graduate film Comfortably Numb (1991), which documented his close friends taking cover on the verge of anxiety attacks during the first Gulf war while Iraqi missiles landed in Tel Aviv. The result was comical and absurd, and the film won the Israeli Academy award for Best Documentary. In 1996 Folman wrote and directed Saint Clara, a feature film based on a novel by Czech author Pavel Kohout. The film won seven Israeli Academy awards, including Best Director and Best Film. Saint Clara opened the Berlin Film Festival's Panorama and won the People’s Choice Award. His second feature Made in Israel (2001) is a futuristic fantasy that centers upon the pursuit of the world’s only remaining Nazi.

Folman has written for several successful Israeli TV series, including Saturdays & Holidays; Parashat Hashavua; and the award-winning In Treatment (BeTipul), which was the basis for the acclaimed HBO series with Gabriel Byrne. Ari made his initial attempt at animation in his series The Material that Love is Made Of—each episode opens with five minutes of documentary animation that depicts scientists presenting their theories on the evolution of love. This successful attempt at documentary animation propelled Ari to develop the unique format of Waltz with Bashir. He lives in Tel Aviv with his wife and three children.

Ari Folman's animated feature documentary Waltz With Bashir won the 2009 Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film, the Los Angeles Critics Film Association Award, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. His other films include The Congress and Made in Israel, and he is also the director of Saint Clara and Comfortably Numb. Folman has written for several successful Israeli TV series, including Saturdays & Holidays; Parashat Hashavua; and the award-winning In Treatment (BeTipul), which was the basis for the acclaimed HBO series with Gabriel Byrne.

About WALTZ WITH BASHIR (Film, 2009)
One night in Beirut in September 1982, while Israeli soldiers secured the area, Christian militia members entered the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila and began to massacre hundreds, if not thousands, of Palestinians. Ari Folman was one of those Israeli soldiers, but for more than twenty years he remembered nothing of that night or of the weeks leading up to it. Then came a friend’s disturbing dream, and with it Folman’s need to excavate the truth of the war in Lebanon and answer the crucial question: what was he doing during the hours of slaughter?

Challenging the collective amnesia of friends and fellow soldiers, Folman painfully, candidly pieces together the war and his place in it. Gradually, the blankness of his mind is filled in by scenes of combat and patrol, misery and carnage, as well as dreams and hallucinations. Soldiers are haunted by inexplicable nightmares and flashbacks—snapping, growling dogs with teeth bared and eyes glowing orange; a recurring image of three young men rising naked out of the sea to drift into the Beirut battlefield. Tanks crush cars and buildings with lethal indifference; snipers pick off men on donkeys, men in cars, men drinking coffee; a soldier waltzes through a storm of bullets; rock songs fill the air, and then yellow flares. The recollections accumulate until Ari Folman arrives at Sabra and Shatila and his investigation reaches its terrible end.

The result is a gripping reconstruction, a probing inquiry into the unreliable quality of memory, and, above all, a powerful denunciation of the senselessness of all wars. Profoundly original in form and approach, Waltz with Bashir will take its place as one of the great works of wartime testimony.

Waltz With Bashir website