“Waltz With Bashir” offers a punch to the gut

“Waltz With Bashir” offers a punch to the gut
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“Waltz With Bashir,” screened in LI 120 by UVU’s Cinema Club on Feb. 11, is a harrowing and powerful examination of the human costs of war, shared equally by its victims and survivors.

The animated Israeli documentary, which focuses on the memories of men who served in the Lebanon War against the Palestinians, was presented free of charge as part of the club’s International Cinema Series.

This Oscar-nominated film typifies the high standard of quality of the Cinema Club’s selections.

“We’re just passionate about film, so we try to get people to see new films,” said Rikki Carter, the club’s vice president.

In the last two semesters alone, the International Cinema Series has shown movies by critically-acclaimed directors like Zhang Yimou, Ingmar Bergman and Hayao Miyazaki. Club Advisor Mark Olson explained that films are chosen as early as a year in advance.

“We have to purchase rights for them, to show them in public,” he said.

Directed by Ari Folman, “Waltz With Bashir” deals specifically with the filmmaker’s inability to recall his role in a massacre on a civilian camp in which the Israeli army was complicit. Through visits to old friends, brothers-in-arms and war correspondents he attempts to confront his past.

The austere dark lines and dead hues of yellow and gray in the animation illustrate the fogginess of memories willfully forgotten. Yet the film also shifts to rousing musical montages and extremely black humor to make its point.

There is beauty even in the horrific imagery, and the sequence in which we learn the meaning behind the film’s title hits a strange note of violent sweetness. In other words, there is humanity in the most unexpected places.

Dovetailing with the film’s theme was an announcement of next week’s 2010 Dialogue on Peace and Justice, taking place in LI 120 on Feb. 17 -18, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both days. Film screenings resume the following Thursday and will thereafter continue consistently through the end of the semester. A full schedule and list of films can be found at www.UVUCinema.blogspot.com.

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