August 20, 2018 – Toronto – National Film Board of Canada
Two acclaimed National Film Board of Canada (NFB) documentaries are being featured at the Toronto Palestine Film Festival (September 20 to 23) with the Toronto premiere of writer David Hare and director Cam Christiansen’s animated feature WALL, and a screening of Toronto filmmaker Christy Garland’s award-winning co-production What Walaa Wants (Murmur Media/NFB/Final Cut for Real).
Hailed as “a fascinating study of the Israeli-Palestinian divide… compelling” by The Hollywood Reporter when the film was presented in official competition at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival, WALL has been selected to screen at film festivals around the world and is currently playing in Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary as part of a Canadian tour—with upcoming dates in Edmonton and a return engagement in Toronto on October 17 at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema.
What Walaa Wants had its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival and its Canadian premiere at Hot Docs, where it received the DGC Special Jury Prize for Canadian Feature Documentary. Point of View magazine’s Amy Siegel wrote: “In a world that continues to dehumanize and victimize Palestinian people, reducing lives to numbers without names or stories, it is refreshing to see a film that portrays such a proud, resilient, young Palestinian woman. You will remember Walaa.”
WALL (82 min.)
Saturday, September 22 at 1:30 p.m. | TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
WALL is written by David Hare, the renowned British playwright, screenwriter and two-time Oscar nominee (for The Hours and The Reader), and directed by award-winning Calgary filmmaker Cam Christiansen. Best known for works that explore socio-political issues both at home and abroad, Hare travels to the Middle East in WALL to examine the impact that the wall separating Israel and Palestine has had on the people of the region.
Using advanced animation tools and 3D motion-capture footage, Christiansen employs a distinctive handcrafted approach that conveys the reality of the 708-kilometre barrier as no film has before. Rich with rhythmic, raw imagery, WALL takes an in-depth look at the “fence” that has forever united, divided and changed communities—while brilliantly capturing the emotions surrounding this massive reminder of unrest.
Revealing and passionate insights from renowned Israeli novelist David Grossman, Professor Neill Lochery of London University, Professor Sari Nusseibeh of Al-Quds University and Ramallah-based attorney Raja Shehadeh are all framed by Hare’s probing, restlessly curious mind, attuned to the incongruities and contradictions of life in the shadow of the wall.
Cam Christiansen is an award-winning director, animator and innovator in the world of 3D animation and digital filmmaking whose films have screened at the Sundance Film Festival and TIFF and made the latter’s Top Ten list of Canadian short films twice (I Have Seen the Future and 5 Hole: Tales of Hockey Erotica). WALL is his first feature-length film and the second project he’s directed with the NFB. His first NFB film was the 2009 short The Real Place.
WALL is produced by the NFB’s David Christensen and Bonnie Thompson. North West Studio head David Christensen is the executive producer.
What Walaa Wants (89 min.)
Friday, September 21 at 8:45 p.m. | TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Raised in a refugee camp in the West Bank while her mother was in an Israeli prison, Walaa is determined to become one of the few women in the Palestinian Security Forces—not easy for a girl who breaks all the rules. Following Walaa from the age of 15 to 21, What Walaa Wants uses an intimate POV to tell the compelling story of this defiant young girl, who navigates formidable obstacles and disproves the negative predictions from her surroundings and the world at large.
Toronto filmmaker Christy Garland’s films deliver strong dramatic development, poignant character transformation, and universally felt themes. Her first feature-length documentary, The Bastard Sings the Sweetest Song (2012, Hot Docs, Sheffield), garnered rave reviews during its theatrical release, with The Globe and Mail describing it as “echoing the work of Bresson and the Dardennes.” VICE magazine called her film Cheer Up (2016, Hot Docs, DOC NYC) “a biting portrait of young womanhood.”
What Walaa Wants is produced by Matt Code and Christy Garland (Murmur Media; Canada), Anne Köhncke (Final Cut for Real; Denmark) and Justine Pimlott (NFB; Canada). The NFB executive producer is Anita Lee. Matt Code produced Mary Goes Round and executive-produced Cardinals, both in 2017. Anne Köhncke’s previous credits include producer on The Act of Killing (2012) and Pervert Park (2014) and associate producer on The Look of Silence (2014).
Electronic Press Kit | Images, trailers, synopsis: WALL | What Walaa Wants
Toronto Palestine Film Festival
Final Cut for Real