Israeli director takes Golden Globe

Ari Folman's Oscar prospects look better than ever as his producer reveals details about their next project.

Ari Folman 88 248 (photo credit: )
Ari Folman 88 248
(photo credit: )
Israeli director Ari Folman had cause to celebrate Sunday night, as his animated feature Waltz with Bashir walked away with the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film. Folman's documentary, about his experiences recalling the first Lebanon War, joined the ranks of only three other Israeli winners: 1965's Salah Shabati, 1972's The Policeman Azoulay and Paradise Now in 2006. The animated film, whose visuals have been compared to the rotoscoped look of Richard Linklater's Waking Life, follows Folman's efforts to uncover repressed memories of his role in Lebanon in 1982. Part homage to Vietnam war movies, part surrealist journey through Folman's friends' delicate recollections, the film has captivated the Israeli public - and it now appears to be having the same effect on international audiences. Once considered a long-shot for an Oscar nomination, Bashir has consistently surprised critics and taste-makers at awards shows. Its unexpected success appeared to have culminated with a recent win for Best Feature at the National Society of Film Critics, where Folman beat out major contenders like the indie smash Happy-Go-Lucky, and animated darling Wall•E. The Film Critics nod is highly coveted, and considered to be an indicator of a film's chances for an Academy Award. But with the Golden Globe now added to his list of awards, Folman appears to be nothing less than a sure thing for an Oscar nomination. And with the sudden timeliness of his film, which dramatically confronts the massacres of Palestinians in the Lebanese refugee camps at Sabra and Shatila, the prospect of a win at the major awards event appears to be growing. Folman himself seemed to shy away from the increased attention shown him at the Los Angeles awards show. "Basically, it's like arriving into a different planet," he told reporters ahead of the awards ceremony. "And everything here has nothing to do with my everyday life, I can tell you that for sure." Yael Nahlieli, a producer on Bashir, was less reserved. "We were up from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. watching the ceremony," she told The Jerusalem Post, referring to the production crew. "There were many bottles of champagne. It was the most exciting journey of four long, long years." But even she was reticent about Oscars hopes. "We are not used to gambling, and we won't start now," she said. "We have only 10 days to wait to find out." About her and Folman's next steps, Nahlieli was more open. "We are starting very soon to develop a new project that Ari will direct and create," she said. Though she could not say whether Israeli audiences should expect another animated feature, or who would star, she did reveal that it would be a sci-fi thriller, based on The Futurological Congress by Stanislaw Lem - best known to moviegoers as the author of Solaris. Meanwhile, the big winner at this year's Golden Globes was Slumdog Millionaire, which picked up four awards, including a Best Director nod for Danny Boyle. Other winners included Kate Winslet, who took Best Dramatic Actress and Best Supporting Actress for Revolutionary Road and The Reader, respectively; and The Wrestler, which walked away with Globes for Mickey Rourke for Best Dramatic Actor and Bruce Springsteen for Best Song. AP contributed to this report.