Since the early 2000s, the Israeli West Bank barrier has been a constant presence in the country, separating Israel and Palestine with the stated purpose of acting as a barrier against terrorists, but to some symbolizing existing divisions between people in the region. In WALL, a feature-length animated film directed by award-winning Calgary filmmaker Cam Christiansen and written by and starring British playwright David Hare, those divisions and the psychology of separation are examined on a philosophical level.
“WALL follows our main character, David Hare, who also wrote the screenplay. He stars as an animated character and it follows his journey through Israel and the West Bank,” Christiansen said. “It’s a sad statement that you feel you have to put up walls. So he’s trying to understand, how did it come to this?”
Christiansen said he was focused on trying to portray both sides of the debate surrounding the barrier, telling people that as a Canadian filmmaker and outside observer he had “no axe to grind.”
“I tried to make it really clear that we’re outsiders coming to try and understand the situation. We have tried to show both sides and I think David Hare did an absolutely exceptional job navigating a really difficult terrain,” he said. “I’ve been all over the world with the film and I initially was completely worried. But the reaction has been the complete opposite. I have had people complain about the idea of fairness and balance, but it’s very much in the minority.”
Though the West Bank barrier has remained highly controversial in the region for nearly two decades, its lasting impact has been complex and is near impossible to understand if one is only exposed to intermittent reporting and occasional sound bites. Christiansen said WALL was an opportunity to approach the subject at an intellectual level.
“The Israel-Palestine conflict doesn’t fit into a sound bite,” he said. “The film doesn’t (solve the conflict), but I think it does offer insights through really high-level discussion.”
Some of those insights come through discussions with prominent Israeli authors, such as David Grossman, who was awarded the 2017 Man Booker International Prize for his novel A Horse Walks Into a Bar.
“(Grossman) is so poetic and thoughtful and he offers a really unique perspective that’s actually very pro-Israel, but I think a very unique perspective,” Christiansen said. “He is willing to accept that there is vulnerability in his point of view. Whereas often in these conflicts, there’s this kind of saber-rattling that happens where both sides feel like they can’t give an inch because it undermines their position.”
Other academics on the other side of the debate also help to humanize what often becomes an abstract concept of division, Christiansen said. Though the film deals with thorny issues such as land ownership and United Nations resolutions, Christiansen said there was a specific effort made to personalize the struggles of the human beings affected by this physical installation.
Christiansen said he was also cognizant of the parallels between the West Bank barrier and various other international conflicts and situations. When the project began, the filmmakers were unsure whether its long production cycle would eventually undermine its relevance.
“It was the most amazing thing that the world just went the absolute opposite direction than in the way you would hope it would go,” Christiansen said. “All the problems with immigration, the rise of nationalism all across the world. The film became more and more relevant and it couldn’t be more relevant now.”
WALL boasts a unique aesthetic style, one that Christiansen said was partly inspired by graphic novels and was supported by the National Film Board of Canada.
“I like an occasional superhero film, but you don’t have a sense of authorship (in terms of) who made that film,” Christiansen said. “There’s not an artistic thumbprint or impression that is really distinct. So I really like that idea and wanted to try to give the aesthetic an impression that it was made by a person.
“I tried to (use) really broad brush strokes, so it’s really messy. It goes with the subject matter – it’s really raw and messy, just to really give it a distinct authorship.”
Christiansen said that those interested in a high-level discussion surrounding the Israel-Palestine conflict would find WALL illuminating.
“There are many bright minds who have tried to solve the Israel-Palestine conflict and have failed dismally. But the more you can learn about it the better, so I think the film does offer some new insights,” Christiansen said. “Plus, they describe (Hare) as the greatest living playwright, so you know you’re in incredibly good hands on a word level.”
WALL screens at the Globe Cinema in Calgary with a Q&A with Christiansen on August 17, 2018. The film is also scheduled to screen August 17 at Cinémathèque québécoise in Montreal and at the Vancity Theatre in Vancouver. For more information, click here.
Schitt’s Creek to conclude after next season
The popular CBC sitcom Schitt’s Creek will end at the conclusion of its sixth season, series co-creator and star Dan Levy announced March 21.
“We are so grateful to have been given the time and creative freedom to tell this story in its totality, concluding with a final chapter that we had envisioned from the very beginning,” Levy said in a statement. “It’s not lost on us what a rare privilege it is in this industry to get to decide when your show should take its final bow.”
Schitt’s Creek premiered on CBC in 2015, becoming one of the network’s most successful half-hour comedies ever. The show follows the fish-out-of-water Rose family, forced to assimilate into a small town after they lose their family fortune.
Though the show’s first season received mixed reviews, it grew in regard with both fans and critics over subsequent iterations. Schitt’s Creek’s fifth season, which premiered on January 8, 2019, scored a 100 per cent “Fresh” ranking on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes.
The show is also among select company among Canadian sitcoms, drawing strong viewership in the United States and elsewhere thanks to distribution on Netflix and the American Pop network. Critics have reacted favourably to recent episodes, with TV Guide’s Megan Vick writing that each season of Schitt’s Creek has “gotten better and better.”
Read Levy’s full statement below.
To Our Dear Fans… pic.twitter.com/FIXjD3gbzA
— dan levy (@danjlevy) March 21, 2019
New episodes of Schitt’s Creek air Tuesday nights at 9/9:30 NT on CBC.
Watch the Oscar-nominated Canadian short “Animal Behaviour”
To get prepped for the 91st Academy Awards, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is offering Canadians the chance to check out Animal Behaviour, nominated tonight in the Best Animated Short Film category.
Animal Behaviour is a new short from Alison Snowden and David Fine, who previously won an Oscar in 1994 for Bob’s Birthday. The short is the 75th Oscar nomination for the NFB, and the first short film for Snowden and Fine since Bob’s Birthday. The 91st Oscars air tonight at 8 Eastern on ABC and CTV.
Watch Animal Behaviour below (expires tonight).
Next up on The Mutt: Wynonna Earp future in doubt as Season 4 delayed
Wynonna Earp future in doubt as Season 4 delayed
All of a sudden, Wynonna Earp is in Purgatory.
Earpers were stunned Thursday night when executive producer and showrunner Emily Andras posted (and subsequently deleted) a tweet suggesting that fans of the show may soon have to fight for it. Another tweet, posted shortly later, took a decidedly more straight-forward approach.
Don’t fuck with my family. 💕
— Emily Andras (@emtothea) February 21, 2019
Andras appeared to be responding to the news that funding for the fourth season of Wynonna Earp appeared to be on shaky ground, according to a report from The Hollywood Reporter. According to THR, financial challenges faced by IDW Entertainment have stalled production on Season 4, despite the company being contractually obligated to deliver the show to Syfy.
In response to the news, Earpers took to Twitter with the hashtag #FightForWynonna, which at the time of publication was one of the top Twitter trends in Canada. Though Season 4 has yet to be officially cancelled, IDW has yet to commit to a start date for the new season.
“IDW is committed to continuing to tell the Wynonna Earp story,” the company said in a statement posted to Twitter. “Much like the fans, we are passionate about not only the series, but the comics, the characters and the overall message that the Wynonna Earp franchise carries. We are in the process of working out the details for how the Wynonna story will continue and will share new details very soon.”
Our resident Earper, Ghezal Amiri, was a big fan of Season 3, writing that the show’s season finale, entitled “War Paint”, was a “wildly emotional conclusion.” Read her recap here.