So much content is now available online, on TV, in theaters, it’s easy to miss the brightest examples of storytelling on each platform. With so many beautiful, original, visionary tales in our own library – Amelie, Kill Bill, Cinema Paradiso, Life is Beautiful, it seems fitting to highlight similar work that may get lost in today’s over-saturated world of content. Today’s focus is on Ari Folman’s, The Congress. Watch the stunning trailer.
The Congress is reminiscent of the Being John Malcovich concept, by using a real actor’s identity to portray a fictionalized version of themselves. In this bizarre, unique world, Robin Wright is made immortal via animation. Read what Indiewire wrote up about this dazzling new film after last year’s Cannes debut.
Words can hardly do justice to the plethora of outlandish visuals populating this ambitious sophomore feature from the Israeli director of Waltz With Bashir, but they’re merely one piece of a larger puzzle. Folman’s beguiling project amounts to a stinging indictment of mainstream culture’s unending commodification. The director spent half a decade assembling his loose adaptation of Stanislaw Lem’s science-fiction novel, The Futurological Congress, and the work shows in both its stunning appearance and the extraordinary depth of insight paired with it. Folman uses beauty and wonder as vessels for rage.
Robin Wright and Harvey Keitel are good bets to draw in a more mainstream audience during the film’s August release. Wright is on Netflix’s hugely successful House of Cards and known for her work in The Princess Bride, Forrest Gump, She’s So Lovely and The Crossing Guard.
- Trying to do her job, Deputy Betts pulls over the wrong guys. In this scene: Freddy (Sylvester Stallone), Deputy Betts (Janeane Garofalo), Ray (Harvey Keitel), Jack (Robert Partick), Murray (Michael Rapaport)
- Mr. Pink arrives at the warehouse in a panic. In this scene: Mr. White (Harvey Keitel), Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi), Mr. Orange (Tim Roth)
- Enthralled with Ada, George pushes the boundaries of their agreement. In this scene: Ada (Holly Hunter), George (Harvey Keitel), Stewart (Sam Neill), Flora (Anna Paquin)
- The surviving humans rally to form a plan for fighting off their vampire attackers. In this scene: Seth (George Clooney), Kate (Juliette Lewis), Jacob (Harvey Keitel), Scott (Ernest Liu)
Congress is Folman’s second film. His first, Waltzing with Bashir, was nominated for an Oscar. In an interview with Filmmaker Magazine, Folman talked about his work and gave advice to young filmmakers.
I think it’s about persistence, like it always was. It’s about persistence and belief, the power of believing in what you’re doing, against the world a lot of the time. And originality. So not many people can be filmmakers. I mean sometimes technology makes you think that everybody can pick up an iPhone and make a feature length film, but they can’t.
It’s a language. I don’t see myself as an artist at all. I would never dare to call myself an artist. I like the word “craft.” I like the word “filmmaker.” I love it that it’s craftsmanship. I hope I know how to tell stories with picture and sound. This is craft, combining it together. If you do that, you’re fine.
And another suggestion I would have to young people is, forget about the auteur cinema. Forget about the guy who carries the burden: he has to be a writer, he has to be director, he has to raise the money for the project. This is bullshit, you know? You can be a great director and know nothing about writing. The only thing you need to know is how to work with a writer to make his scripts improve.
Here’s hoping young filmmakers listen to Folman’s advice and go create more beautiful, original, visionary tales, so that audiences have more options than just comic-book blockbusters at the local cineplex.
The Congress opens in theaters, August 29.