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Jewish Journal

The War Is Over for ‘Waltz’

by Danielle Berrin

February 24, 2009 | 12:20 pm

Orit Arfa, an Israeli journalist/aspiring actress attended the official “Waltz With Bashir” Oscar party where a disappointed Ari Folman spoke to reporters:

Waltz With Bashir is a movie the expresses filmmaker Ari Folman’s hatred for war, but it felt like a war zone of the spirit in the run up to the Academy’s announcement of best foreign film, with Israeli Oscar dreams crushed by the Japanese.

“I was really hyped and tense. Then it was a drop of adrenaline immediately after the announcement of Departures,” Folman told the Jewish Journal at the post-Oscar bash at the Beverly Hilton.

He described exactly the mood at the Hilton’s International Ballroom, where the Israeli production team not lucky enough to attend the actual ceremony at the Kodak Theater watched the Oscars at the black-tie viewing banquet held by Jewish philanthropist Daphne Ziman’s Children Uniting Nations and co-sponsored by The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, and 93.5 FM The Beat.

Ziman spread her hope for Zionist victory by reserving several tables for the Waltz With Bashir brigade, engaging in hasbara by leaving brochures about the film for some 600 guests, including Oscar Nunez (of The Office), Billy Baldwin, Jane Seymour, and Tia Tequila.

The battle was long and drawn-out as the Best Foreign Film was announced over two hours into the ceremony.

“It was a total build-up with five categories, then four categories, commercial breaks, sitting here feeling like my heart will jump out of my body,” said Tel Aviv-based animator Neta Holzer, moments after the Japanese bomb fell.

Consul General Jacob Dayan, on hand to provide ammunition of support and hype, had been sure, as many there, that Israel had the creative advantage. “I had good vibes and feeling that this is the year,” said Dayan. “For me, as consul general, it’s a second year in a row we were among five and haven’t succeeded [last year Israel was nominated for Beaufort], so maybe I should resign and bring better luck to the State of Israel.”

Members of Israeli media were clearly upset too, in part because they weren’t sure if Folman would show up to the after-party. “Israelis aren’t good losers,” commented one reporter off-hand.

But the minute Folman walked through the hotel doors with his wife, all cameras and mics flew into his face, as if the couple were Israel’s very own Brangelina. It took the irate security about ten minutes to herd them to the media-designated red carpet at the fire marshal’s request.

Folman, dashing in a tuxedo, acted like the dignified general as he graciously took time to speak with Israeli reporters, rehashing the same soundbites to give each warring network some individuality, all with the same basic message: “It’s a basa (letdown), but on the other hand, we got so far,” he told them in Hebrew, “that it’s not so bad now.”

Folman later related his initial fears of defeat to the Journal, in English, “When we arrived in Los Angeles, I had this feeling I was going to win. As more time went by something in me told me it wasn’t going to be me. It’s the karma of my life.”

But with a Golden Globe and a slew of other victorious battles under his belt, he knows he put up an admirable fight.  “I have no clue what happened, how it happened. It doesn’t really matter. It’s over. It’s a game.”

He now looks forward to going back to Israel and spending quality time with his family—in real peace.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Danielle Berrin writes the Hollywood Jew blog, a cutting edge, values-based take on the entertainment industry for jewishjournal.com. A Los Angeles Times profile dubbed her...

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