Many people were surprised when Israeli director Ari Folman, the creative force behind the award-winning, Oscar-nominated, animated documentary "Waltz With Bashir," declined to take a stand on Israel's most recent Gaza military offensive.
While on the awards circuit, which coincided with the Gaza assault, Folman sidestepped questions comparing his jarring film on Israel's responsibility for wartime atrocities in Lebanon to Israel's actions in Gaza.
Folman declined to draw any comparisons -- or make any distinctions -- between Lebanon and Gaza.
"How does it feel to have this film released in the United States just as Israel is at war again, this time in Gaza?" Folman was asked in an interview with The Washington Post.
"It's nothing of a surprise," Folman replied. "There is a constant conflict, you know, so it's always happening again. This film is always being updated. It is always relevant to current events."
"Do you think your film can do something to change the situation?" The Post asked.
"No," Folman said. "Film can build small bridges between human beings, but it can't change the world, change politics, change politicians, change decisions, change the majority of the support that the war has. No, it can't change anything."
His animator, Yoni Goodman, appears to have a different view.
Goodman has just released "Closed Zone," a 90-second animated short film about Gaza.
In it, a Palestinian in Gaza goes chasing after a blue bird, only to be turned back by imposing, massive hands as he approaches Gaza's borders.
The Palestinian watches rockets soar out of Gaza and hit an Israeli town. Then he is boxed in by the hands as he tries to escape from Israel's military counter-strike.
“It was important to me to create a human figure to whom everyone can relate," said Goodman. "I hope that when people watch the short, they will be able to detach themselves from their automatic associations of good and evil.”
Goodman created the film for Gisha, an Israeli human rights group that has long challenged Israel's policies towards Gaza, especially the restrictions imposed on humanitarian aid to the 1.4 million Palestinians living there.
"The war made this film a mission for me," Goodman said in a short companion video on "The Making of Closed Zone."
"We chose the medium of animation to try to get viewers to recognize the humanity of the residents of Gaza," said Gisha Executive Director Sari Bashi. "It is increasingly difficult to remind people that residents of the Gaza Strip are human beings who wish to raise children, to earn a living, to realize their dreams, both small and large."
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