Ari Folman’s ‘Bashir’ Follow-up ‘The Congress’ Excites the Internet

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A scene from Ari Folman’s The Congress
Photo: Courtesy of Slash Film

Israeli director Ari Folman’s Waltz with Bashir was a big hit in 2008 and ultimately earned a Best Foreign Language Oscar nomination, and many thought it should have won though it ended up losing to Departures out of Japan. His follow-up, The Congress, a loose adaptation of Stanislaw Lem’s “The Futurological Congress,” has been discussed here and there starting with Yair Raveh’s interview with Folman at Cinemascope in which Folman gave details as to what direction the film will take:

“We’ll take elements from Bashir, mainly in how the story is structured, but instead of traveling backwards with the characters, this time we will travel forward, jumping into the future. The present will be shot in live-action, the future will be animated. The main character will be played by AN ACTRESS PLAYING HERSELF. The film is a co-production between Israel, Poland and France. England may join in as well. The animation will be done by the studio we set up for Bashir, with Yoni Goodman as the director of animation, David Polonsky as the art-director and Yael Nachlieli as producer. The team will start works soon, and the preliminary development will start in March.”

Many of you will likely recognize Stanislaw Lem’s name as the author whose “Solaris” was adapted into a film by both Andrei Tarkovsky and Steven Soderbergh. Lem’s 1971 story is described by Wikipedia as a dark humor sci-fi story detailing the exploits of Ijon Tichy as he visits the Eighth World Futurological Congress at the Costa Rica Hilton when a riot breaks out. Ijon is hit by various psychoactive drugs, which are being used as weapons by both the government and rebels. He and a few others escape to the safety of a sewer beneath the Hilton where the congress was being held, and in the sewer he goes through a series of hallucinations and false awakenings which cause him to be confused about whether or not what’s happening around him is real. Finally, he believes that he falls asleep and wakes up 150 years later. The main part of the book follows Ijon’s adventures in the future world — a world where everyone takes hallucinogenic drugs, and hallucinations have replaced reality.

The actress referred to in the quote above turns out to be Robin Wright Penn playing herself as Robin Wright.

Talk of the film increased in mid-January when Slash Film debuted the image you see at the lede of this post giving you a better idea of the aging process the film will have on its lead actress through animation.

Today chatter spiked again as Slash Film posted a Spanish TV report that also first debuted at Cinemascope back in mid-March. The video features Wright Penn and also gives a glimpse of Boaz Rein-Buskila from Waltz with Bashir, played by Mickey Leon.

You can check out the video below, but don’t get too worked up as it is pretty much suffocated by a Spanish voice over, but if you are hotly anticipating Folman’s next feature this should satiate some need for information and footage until a real trailer is available.

Considering the video above is over a month old perhaps something new will arrive shortly, or perhaps this will be a surprise addition to the Cannes Film Festival in May as it was once reported The Congress would screen at the twelfth edition of Cartoon Movie, which will be held in Lyon on March 3 – 5, and reference to the symposium held in Lyons, France can be heard in the video.