PARIS (JTA) – “Waltz With Bashir” became the first Israeli film to win the Cesar, a top French film award.
As he accepted the Best Foreign Film award Feb. 27 at the French version of the Oscars, director Ari Folman said, "The only message of the film is to be tolerant, to believe in the other, to believe in love and in peace.”
Folman’s victory was considered a surprise, French reports said, in a competition that included Sean Penn’s “Into the Wild,” Paul Thomas Anderson’s "There Will Be Blood" and Matteo Garrone’s "Gomorra.”
"Waltz With Bashir," which won the Golden Globe award in January, lost out in becoming Israel’s first Academy Award winner for best foreign film despite being considered the front-runner.
The animated drama about the 1982 Israeli war in Lebanon was well received in France, boasting a relatively high 500,000 tickets sold, according to the French news agency AFP.
Over the weekend Israeli reports had claimed that Folman’s golden Cesar award was nearly stolen from him following the ceremony at a party, but Folman denied the reports, according to the daily Ha’aretz.
"This movie was made with a great deal of love, passion, a lot of patience, and I think that if this movie was made for the cinema, it was equally made for peace," Folman said during his acceptance speech in Paris.