FLEFF Pre-Festival Screening Gives A Searing First-Hand Look At The 1982 Lebanon War

ITHACA, NY — “Waltz with Bashir,” director Ari Folman’s animated documentary on his combat memories of the 1982 Lebanon War, will be the first pre-festival offering by the organizers of the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival (FLEFF). Winner of more than a dozen awards, including the Critics’ Choice Award as Best Foreign Language Film of 2008, “Waltz with Bashir” will be screened at Cinemapolis (at Center Ithaca on the Commons) on Saturday, Feb. 14, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $8.50.

The screening will be followed by an audience discussion moderated by Luke Fenchel, arts critic for the “Ithaca Journal,” with a panel composed of faculty from Ithaca College (Rebecca Lesses, Jewish studies; and Beth Harris, politics) and Cornell University (Deborah Starr, Near Eastern studies). Folman’s film is in Hebrew with English subtitles.

After serving as Israeli infantry in the 1982 conflict between Israel and Lebanon, Folman began to travel the world with the ultimate goal of becoming a documentary filmmaker. After several films and many awards, he found himself sitting in a bar listening to an old friend retell a recurring nightmare about being chased by 26 vicious dogs.

The two veterans concluded the dream is connected to their combat experiences with the Israeli Army in the 1982 Lebanon War. Folman, however, was surprised he couldn’t remember any of the details. Intrigued by this riddle, he decides to track down and interview six of his old comrades-in-arms, along with a psychologist and a reporter who was in Beirut the same time Folman was. As the director delved deeper into the mystery, he uncovered truths about his actions in the war and what people are capable of doing to each other.

“It was always my intention to make an animated documentary,” Folman told an interviewer. “For a few years, I had the basic idea for the film in my mind but was not happy to do it in real life video. How would that have looked? A middle-aged man being interviewed against a black background, telling stories that happened 25 years ago, without any archival footage to support them.”

Combining a soundtrack of classical and 1980s rock music with realistic graphics and surrealistic scenes, the film creates vivid images of war’s terrible toll.

Launched in 1997 as an outreach project sponsored by Ithaca College, Cornell University’s Center for the Environment and Eunadi Center for International Studies and others, FLEFF is now under the auspices of the Ithaca College Division of Interdisciplinary and International Studies. FLEFF has become a major regional event in upstate New York and enjoys an international reputation as a cutting-edge, multi-arts program.

FLEFF 2009 will kick off its weeklong offerings of film screenings and special events on March 30. The events will take place at Ithaca College, Cinemapolis, and Fall Creek Pictures. For updates, visit

Information on pre-festival forums and screenings is available at

Originally published in News Releases: FLEFF Pre-Festival Screening Gives A Searing First-Hand Look At The 1982 Lebanon War.

School of Humanities and Sciences  ·  201 Muller Center  ·  Ithaca College  ·  Ithaca, NY 14850  ·  (607) 274-3102  ·  Full Directory Listing