THE ANIMATED DOCUMENTARY

Poignant subjects, grainy archival footage, and professorial talking heads—directors of historical documentaries have long known what audiences expect of their work. Now, though, Ari Folman is flipping fusty documentarians the bird—a bright, cartoonish one at that.

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Poignant subjects, grainy archival footage, and professorial talking heads—directors of historical documentaries have long known what audiences expect of their work. Now, though, Ari Folman is flipping fusty documentarians the bird—a bright, cartoonish one at that. While Brett Morgen used animation snippets to spice up courtroom audio recordings in Chicago 10, Folman has produced the first completely animated feature-length doc, Waltz With Bashir. The former Israeli soldier's choice of medium is pragmatic, since no footage exists of the film's central event—the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre in Lebanon, in which 3,000 Palestinian civilians were killed. But animation also proves effective at conveying the surreal nature of war and the imperfect blur of memory. Bashir is a bold look into the past, but the technique it employs just may provide a peek into the future. David Walters

The trailer for Waltz with Bashir

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