Still from Ari Folman's "The Futurological Congress", photo: Opus Film
Cannes Film Festival’s 45th Director’s Fortnight kicks off with Waltz with Bashir director Ari Folman’s long-awaited The Congress – a part-animation, part live-action film based on Stanisław Lem’s novel, The Futurological Congress, from 1971
Starring Robin Wright, Paul Giamatti, Jon Hamm, Harvey Keitel, Danny Huston and Frances Fisher, The Congress "is a haunted look on our future and the future of cinema", said artistic director Edouard Waintrop. "In this powerful adaptation of Stanisław Lem’s cult novel, Ari Folman gives free rein to his imagination… It will open the 2013 Directors’ Fortnight, which in fact deals with the future of the movies around the world". The Fortnight section was where directors Werner Herzog, George Lucas, Martin Scorsese, Ken Loach, Jim Jarmusch, Jerzy Skolimowski, and Michael Haneke showed some of their first films.
Todd Brown writes for Twitchfilm,
Lem - the writer of Solaris, among others - is one of the true giants of international science fiction and surprisingly little of his work has been adapted in English so the idea of one of his key works being handled by a director as strong as Folman ... well, that's a little something to look forward to. […] A dystopic satire fuelled by psychoactive drugs. Expect this to be weird. And awesome.
The hype surrounding The Congress comes in no small part from the success of Waltz with Bashir, which competed in Cannes’ main competition five years ago. The Congress is Folman's first animated work since Bashir. In an interview with Alain Lorfèvre at Lalibre.be , Folman reveals that this international project (Belgium, Israel, Poland, Germany, Luxembourg) spent four years in development. The film’s Polish co-producer is Opus Film in Łódź.
The hybrid feature mixes live action and animation, about an aging actress with a disabled child who agrees to a large payment to have a full-body imaging that will be digitized then utilized to create a digital actress. Folman comments "Bashir was more stylistic, but here I wanted to preserve the classical 2-D animation". The cinematography for the live-action scenes is by Michał Englert, the Polish cameraman who recently won the Sundance Festival's Best Cinematography award for his work on Jacek Borcuch's Lasting.
Folman, whose parents emigrated from Poland after the war and who holds a Polish passport, considers his origins to have influenced his understanding of Lem:
I realize that the circumstances in which Lem’s literature arose, were satire, in a sense, referring to the reality of a totalitarian state. I suspect that the writer could not write everything the way he probably wanted to. He often used metaphors, which most likely I understand better than those readers who are not familiar with the conditions under which Lem wrote his works.
While Folman’s adaptation of the sci-fi novel opens the Director’s Fortnight, Roman Polański's latest feature, Venus in Fur, competes in the main competition, and shorts, animations and docs compete in the shorts competition, and at Cannes' Marché du Film. The 2012 Director's Fortnight screened Marcin Bortkiewicz's secret portrait of his grandmother Drawn From Memory.
Editor: MJ, 22.04.2013