Ari Folman at the airport in Beirut in 1982
In September 1982, Christian supporters of President Bashir Gemayel, enraged by his assassination, massacred hundreds of Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in West Beirut while Israeli soldiers surrounding the camps did nothing to stop the brutality. Director Ari Folman was among them, but found, years later, that he had no recollection of the events he’d witnessed.
That realization sent Folman on an investigation, interviewing friends and peers about what they did and saw during the war in an effort to jog his own memory.
The breathtaking result of Folman’s exploration is Waltz With Bashir, a vibrantly animated, wrenching film—part memoir, part documentary—that has thrilled audiences around the world since its debut at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year. It has already started racking up awards and has been nominated for a Golden Globe for best foreign film.
We spoke with Ari Folman in his hotel in New York where he was promoting Waltz With Bashir about the challenges of making this film, his favorite scenes, and the cinematic legacy he hopes to leave his children.
The orchard scene:
Film stills and clips from Waltz with Bashir courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.