<i>Variety</i> screens the animated drama

There was a sizeable gasp Tuesday night when director Ari Folman attributed the cause of war to “small leaders with big egos” at the Variety Screening Series for his film, “Waltz With Bashir.”

Having already akined the pic to a story that could have been told by “a current American soldier in Iraq,” Folman made his point clear.

“It is a universal story in the end,” Folman said. “Although it is very personal, it could have been told anywhere. It could have been told by anyone who woke up one morning in a remote city, far away from home, far away from his family, his love; then he starts asking himself questions like, ‘What the hell am I doing here? I might die in the next hour and why?’”

“Bashir,” which is Israel’s official Oscar entry, has been described as an animation-docu hybrid. It is also in consideration for best animated feature at the Oscars but missed the deadline for the docu feature category.

“One of them didn’t want the guys at work to know he smokes pot,” Folman said, referring to the subjects in the film. “But now, of course, they’re telling everyone, ‘I’m the guy smoking joints in that film.’”

All joking aside, Folman said the film’s message is a sober one. It’s a statement to his own children — one he was able to tell his way.

“I never had an American dream, really, to make a Hollywood movie, it’s just, as they say in the movie, ‘It’s not in my system,’” Folman said. “For me, being free — a free soul, an independent soul — is the most important thing to me as a filmmaker, and I’ll always be where I get the freedom to do it.”

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