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Israeli film takes top honors

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LOS ANGELES (JTA) — An Israeli film was named the best picture of 2008 by a society of American critics.

“Waltz with Bashir” was the choice of The National Society of Film Critics at its annual meeting Jan. 3 in New York.

The film combines state-of-the-art animation, an anti-war documentary theme and a psychoanalytical approach to recover the memory of a traumatized Israeli soldier.

Director Ari Folman is also its central character as a 20-year-old infantryman whose unit spearheaded the Israeli advance into Lebanon in June 1982. The announced goal was to stop incursions and rocket attacks on northern Galilee towns by the Palestine Liberation Organization. 

Israel’s current incursion into the Gaza Strip to eliminate Hamas rocket attacks provides “Waltz” an added relevance.

“Waltz” already had earned recognition at international film festivals, from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the Golden Globes nominating committee.

The top pick by the national critics is rarely emulated by the Academy Awards voters, but the local buzz is that "Waltz" may well become the first Israeli film to win an Oscar.

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