Oscar-Nominated Animator Addresses Gaza Siege in

March 6th, 2009 - by admin

Jewish Peace News & Ha’aretz – 2009-03-06 20:29:01


“Closed Zone”
From the Director of Animation of “Waltz with Bashir”
Sarah Anne Minkin

(March 5, 2009) — Yoni Goodman, the director of animation for the movie “Waltz with Bashir,” created a very short film called “Closed Zone” to illustrate the effects of closure in Gaza. For the last 18 months, Israel has maintained a siege of Gaza, strictly limiting who and what enters or exits the small & overcrowded strip of land.

(Despite having withdrawn the Jewish settlers from Gaza in 2005, Israel maintains control over Gaza’s land, air and water borders, including indirect control over the Rafah border with Egypt.) This 1.5 minute film takes the perspective of an individual and shows what that closure looks like through his eyes.

• You can see it here:

The film was created for the organization Gisha: Legal Center for the Freedom of Movement, which is an Israeli human rights organization dedicated to protecting the freedom of movement for Palestinians. Their website is accessible and informative, with excellent reports on, among other things, the struggle to open Gaza’s borders for aid and rebuilding materials and on the status of Gaza’s students, trapped in Gaza and prevented from attending to their studies. http://www.gisha.org/

“Closed Zone” has garnered some media attention: Huffington Post and Ha’aretz wrote about it, with the Ha’aretz article pointing out Egypt’s role in controlling the Rafah border. The film shows Egypt being pressured by Israel to keep the Rafah border closed. (The Ha’aretz article is printed below.)

Lincoln Shlensky adds:

It is notable that with the release of this animated short the animator (Yoni Goodman), and not the director (Ari Folman), of “Waltz with Bashir” makes the historical connection between the Sabra and Shatila massacre and the present Israeli occupation.

Folman’s feature film, as others have pointed out, avoids any explicit discussion or analysis of this crucial historical link, and so the film feels politically disengaged from the present political context (and from what we now know of the strategic aims and historical consequences of Israel’s 1982 Lebanon invasion).

Jeffrey Skoller, who teaches film studies at the University of California, Berkeley, has argued that Folman’s film therefore seems to be engaged in an extended act of mourning for Israelis, but hardly for Palestinians, and so ends up being largely self-serving.

Goodman’s short new film is surprisingly devoid of context as well, leaving it to the viewer to understand and fill in the history of Palestinian dispossession that gives context to his “everyman” character’s feeling of being walled in from all sides in Gaza.

Jewish Peace News editors:
Joel Beinin
Racheli Gai
Rela Mazali
Sarah Anne Minkin
Judith Norman
Lincoln Shlensky
Rebecca Vilkomerson
Alistair Welchman

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WATCH: Waltz with Bashir Animator Creates Short Film on Gaza Blockade
Haaretz Service

TEL AVIV (March 3, 2009) — An animator of the celebrated Israeli war film “Waltz with Bashir” has illustrated a new film depicting the life of a fictional boy in the Gaza Strip during the Israeli blockade of the coastal territory.

Yoni Goodman’s short film “Closed Zone” runs only a minute and a half and was created for the NGO Gisha, a group devoted to freedom of movement.

A spokesman for Gisha said that “though the use of a single animated character, Goodman tries to cause the viewer to feel empathy for the people of Gaza and see them as they are – a million and a half people who only want to live out their ambitions and dreams, something they cannot do because of their ability to move freely.”

Goodman said that when making the film, “it was very important for me to create a character that anyone can connect to. I hope that when people see the movie, they will be able to detach themselves from the automatic view of good or bad.

“People talk about Hamas, but there are many civilians there who are not Hamas supporters but who are suffering from this blockade,” Goodman added.

The film, a combination of animation and real-life scenes, follows a boy chasing a blue bird while large hands block his way. The hands first cut Gaza’s borders in the ground with a giant cookie-cutter, then prevent the boy from crossing them.

The boy tries to row out to sea, but a hand turns him back. He then approaches Gaza’s Rafah border crossing with Egypt but is stopped by two hands wearing flag cuffs, one Egyptian, the other Israeli.

“I think many people see Israel as an aggressive country, but this is not my Israel, Goodman said.

“I want people in the West to see it, to see that there are people in Israel who are against war, who want peace.”

Goodman was a the animation director for Ari Foldman’s “Waltz with Bashir” which won a Golden Globe for best foreign film and a nomination for an Academy Award in the same category, but lost out to the Japanese film “Departures”.

Related articles:
# Ari Folman denies report thieves tried to steal ‘Waltz with Bashir’ award
# ‘Waltz with Bashir’ crew lament Oscar defeat
# U.S. Writers Guild names Israeli war film ‘Waltz with Bashir’ best documentary

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