Waltz with Bashir good 88 248.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Waltz with Bashir director Ari Folman said after his upset Oscar loss Sunday that he felt he was destined to be the one who loses the big prize in the end.
"I think it's the karma of my life, being the one who is supposed to win and loses," the director told The Jerusalem Post outside a post-Academy Awards party at the swanky Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills.
Folman had been heavily favored to win a statuette for best foreign film - an award that would have been Israel's first, after eight nominations, including one in 2008 for Joseph Cedar's Beaufort. Instead, Japan's Departures, a film about a classical musician who takes a job preparing bodies for burial, won the Oscar for best foreign language film. It was the first Japanese film to win an Oscar in that category in more than half a century.
Folman's film won a number of key Hollywood accolades in the run-up to the Oscars, including a Golden Globe, widely seen as a harbinger of success at the Academy Awards.
Folman said he had arrived at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood confident that he would win, but slowly felt his certainty drain as the three-hour ceremony went on.
The foreign-language category is something of a crapshoot because of the relatively small number of Academy members eligible to vote in it.
Voters are required to see all five nominated films at special screenings or in theaters, rather than on the DVD copies commonly distributed for the major awards categories.
Last year's gong went to the Austrian film The Counterfeiters, a film about a Jewish concentration camp prisoner who begins forging currency for the Nazis.
Waltz With Bashir was one of the most acclaimed films of the year, but defied easy categorization. An animated documentary, it follows a soldier struggling to recall suppressed memories from his involvement in Israel's 1982 war with Lebanon.
Folman, gripping a glass of ice water instead of a trophy, said he was happy for the international publicity the Oscars had given his film, and declined to speculate on whether politics had played a role in its loss.
"It's a game," Folman said, shrugging. "It's 500 anonymous voters, and I don't know a single one."
He said he planned to drink the night away before getting on a plane home to Israel.
"I'll be glad to be done with all of this traveling, though I am going to miss it in a few months - but right now I just want to go home and be with my kids," Folman told the Post.
He patiently spoke to three Israeli camera crews, answering questions with a smile despite his complaints in recent interviews about being asked the same few details over and over again.
The film, he told the Post, was intended as a message to others who have been or will be soldiers, but was also something he needed to make for himself.
"For filmmakers, this is the only way to express themselves - for me it was the only choice," he told the Post.
"It's been a wild ride, and it was worth it," he added.
Departures director Yojiro Takita said he was surprised about his win.
"It was hard to believe, and it was unbelievable," he said backstage after accepting the award.
The other Oscar nominees were Cannes Palme d'Or winner The Class from France; the crime caper from Austria Revanche; and Germany's The Baader Meinhof Complex, which follows West German terrorist group the Red Army Faction.
AP contributed to this report.