Preeminent UK playwright and screenwriter David Hare—whom The Washington Post referred to as “the premiere political dramatist writing in English”—writes and stars in this innovative animated feature that explores the reality of the wall separating Israel and Palestine as no film has before. Rich with rhythmic, raw imagery, the film is framed by Hare’s journey, as both his heart and mind are shaken by the incongruities and contradictions of life in the shadow of the wall.
Interview with Director Cam Christiansen
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
We made the film after reading David Hare’s script for WALL. It really helped shed light on a very complex and difficult topic: the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. He looked at what it means to build a wall to separate physically and philosophically.
It’s relevant because we are seeing a retreat now from globalism and a resurgence of nationalism. There is an impulse to put up walls metaphorically and physically, and we felt these issues should be examined.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
If you are interested in a high-level discussion on a very important topic and are interested in seeing something visually unique, this is for you.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
The film examines the issue from both sides on a personal level. The film is based on numerous actual conversations with prominent academics, lawyers and writers. In one case, the Man Booker Prize-winning author David Grossman speaks about Israel in a way that is very introspective. It’s a unique view on the topic and not one we are used to hearing. In all cases these conversations create empathy and insight on both sides, which is ultimately universal.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
We had a lot of back and forth where we were trying to get the balance between the written word and the images. We wanted to give a proper weight to both sides. It’s a very challenging task to try and accomplish and took many iterations.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
Occasionally we will have people who take issue with points in the film and are upset by certain aspects. It is such a divisive issue, this came as no surprise. That said, the feedback is usually overwhelmingly positive and people are struck by the power of the images and the insights of the words.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
What has surprised me the most is how varied views are within the Muslim and Jewish communities. If you just listen to the news, you would expect them to both be very rigid and monolithic. To date, this has not been my experience, and I find this welcome and encouraging.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
I’m wanting to connect with viewers who may be interested in the film and help the film reach a broader audience.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
We are in the middle of our festival run and are looking for US and international distribution. Luckily, it’s produced by the National Film Board of Canada, which has much of this underway.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I hope people are left with new insights and a sense that they have seen something artistically unique. Someone described the film as an imaginative film about a topic that had no imagination in the last 70 years. If that’s the case, I’d be most pleased.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
What are the benefits to building a wall to separate yourself? But also what are the costs on a physical and philosophical level.
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
I am currently working on a live-action film about what I’ve discovered is an even more hot-button divisive topic than Israel/Palestine, namely love and relationships.
Interview: June 2018
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Length: 79:05 minutes
Director: Cam Christiansen
Producers: David Christensen, Bonnie Thompson (NFB)
Executive Producer: David Christensen
Writer: David Hare
About the writer, director and producer:
DAVID HARE (WRITER): Two-time Academy Award® nominee for screenwriting (The Hours, The Reader) David Hare is a playwright and filmmaker. He has written over thirty stage plays. For film and television he has written over twenty-five screenplays. He has also written English adaptations of plays by Brecht, Gorky, Chekhov, Pirandello, Ibsen and Lorca. His first work of memoir, THE BLUE TOUCH PAPER, was published in 2014. In the NT millennial poll of the greatest plays of the 20th century, five of the top 100 were his.
Cam Christiansen (Director): Cam Christiansen is an award-winning director, animator and innovator in the world of 3D animation and digital filmmaking. His films have screened at the Sundance Film Festival and TIFF and made the latter’s top-ten list of Canadian short films twice. He also qualified for Academy Award contention by winning the Best Animated/Experimental Short award at the LA Film Festival in 2008. WALL is his first feature-length film.
Producer (NFB): The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) produces groundbreaking animation at its studios in Montreal and at NFB centres across Canada, as well as via international co-productions with many of the world’s leading auteur animators. The NFB is a leader in developing new approaches to stereoscopic 3D animation and animated content for new platforms. The NFB has created over 13,000 productions and won over 7,000 awards, with NFB animation accounting for 7 of the NFB’s 12 Oscars, as well as 6 grand prizes at France’s Annecy International Animated Film Festival, 4 Palmes d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and 2 Golden Bears at Berlinale.
Key cast: David Hare, Elliot Levey, Nayef Rashed, Ammar Haj Ahmad, Phillip Arditti, Sam Cox, Sara Kestelman, Imran Mraish, Raad Rawi, Karzan Sherabayani, Aviv Teller, Atta Alzweidi, Amir Boutros, Paul Jesson, Nicholas Le Prevost, Tracy Ann Oberman, David Schneider, Lauren Silver
Looking for: US and international distribution
Where can I watch it next and in the coming month?
This month WALL will be in competition in Annecy, France, and will have its UK premiere in Edinburgh, Scotland. Once it is finished its festival run, it will be released theatrically across Canada. It will be online after that point.
Official Selection - Feature Film Annecy 2018
Official Selection - Edinburgh International Film Festival 2018
Competition - Feature Films - Anima Mundi International Animation Festival 2018