Thursday evening, Sony Picture Classics hosted a screening of Ari Folman‘s Waltz With Bashir–an animated Israeli film about post-traumatic stress disorder and the early 1980s war between Israel and Lebanon–followed by a vice presidential debate and dinner party at the Fifth Avenue home of Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen and his wife, Huffington Post advice columnist Mona Ackerman.
“We have to watch this film quickly, no more chatting!” said publicist Peggy Siegal said before introducing Sony Picture Classics co-president Tom Bernard, who listed the film’s accolades: debut at Cannes, Telluride, Toronto, at the NY Film Festival last Wednesday, and six Israeli Academy Awards. It was also nominated by Israel for the Academy Awards this year.
“The director couldn’t remember the events that happened in the early ’80s during the war, so he wanted to try and figure out how to describe it so he went back through all the people he knew from that time and interviewed them, and he videotaped them, and he went back and watched them, and piece by piece sort of uncovered his memory. He did that and then he decided he would turn it into an animated film, so he literally drew this film,” he said.
Mr. Folman and I sat on a living room couch opposite several large windows. Wait staff with plates of sushi, dim sum, and tiny potato pancakes circled us every few seconds. The Daily Transom wondered if he had any particular interest in the debate, or American politics in general.
“Oh well,” he said, edging forward on the couch, “It’s the most obvious selection of all time. No? It’s so obvious it’s unbelievable. I’m still recovering from the fact that I read two things about Sarah Palin. How do you say it?” We sounded out her name.
“Yes. Palin. She hunts her own food,” he said, referencing a recent Newsweek article. “They don’t buy meat. She hunts her own food! She just takes a shotgun and she hunts. And I was wondering, if she ends up in the White House, what is she going to do? Will they release rabbits, for example, in the garden so she can make soup? And the thing with the abortions is unbelievable as well. I couldn’t believe it when I read it, she could be the president, you know?
“They have a law now that they could go up in a helicopter to shoot the animals,” he continued. “The animals are becoming more and more clever. I’ve read some really, really weird stuff, man.”
Soon it was time for the debate. Ms. Palin’s voice cracked through the living room and several loud bursts of ‘boo’ raked through the apartment. Afterward, one guest told us, “I think she knocked it out of the park. While she may not have played well on Fifth Avenue, just west of here, I think there are people cheering her name.”
Ms. Ackerman was overseeing her guests’ exodus. “She sure knows who her audience is,” she said. “Let’s not use the word intelligent–let’s say she was studied. She debated in a very studied way.”