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Luxembourg co-production The Congress opens fresh from Cannes success
Culture & Life

Luxembourg co-production The Congress opens fresh from Cannes success

2 2 min. 03.07.2013 From our online archive
Acclaimed Israeli director Ari Folman was in Luxembourg on Tuesday evening to present his latest film and Luxembourg co-production The Congress, fresh from opening the Directors' Fortnight in Cannes in May.
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(CS) Acclaimed Israeli director Ari Folman was in Luxembourg on Tuesday evening to present his latest film and Luxembourg co-production The Congress, fresh from opening the Directors' Fortnight in Cannes in May.

The “Avant Première” event also marked the beginning of the 20th anniversary celebrations of production company Paul Thiltges Distributions in Luxembourg.

The film sees Robin Wright star as a fictionalised version of herself in a world where movie studios don't just want to hire an actor but own them. Digitalised versions of Tinseltown stars do exactly what Hollywood corporations want them to, and studio bosses become unscrupulous neo-Noir villains.

What becomes of an actor's craft in the digital age? And what happens when seeing a star on the big screen is not enough anymore, but people want to become and be their star?

Based on a novel by Polish author Stanislaw Lem, Folman's film paints a dark picture of the future, and the verb “paint” is quite accurate, as the action moves into “the animated zone” less than half way through. In this zone people live in a kind of suspended reality sponsored by the movie studios, turned into animated characters, giving them the ability to be whoever they want to be.

An homage to film as it used to be

From there, Wright tumbles down a trippy rabbit hole, where the lines between reality and imagination blur and many a viewer might begin to feel as lost as Wright at the Futurological Congress of hallucinogenic drugs, dreams and awakenings.

The Congress is the first film by Folman since the international success of animated war documentary Waltz With Bashir in 2008. But where Waltz With Bashir turned live-action footage into realistic Flash animation, the animated world of The Congress uses 2D hand-drawn animation, executed at Luxembourg's Studio 352, a somewhat ironic feature considering that we are meant to be looking into the future, not the past.

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The film is a homage to actors, to films as they used to be before the age of sequels and prequels and mass-media marketing campaigns. It casts a more than critical eye on the public consumption of celebrity culture, turning it from metaphor to reality, and puts within reach a digitalised movie industry, not too far from where progress has already brought us.

But just like the story and its characters delve through various layers of this fantastical world there is more to the plot than meets the eye, as it examines the more fundamental and philosophical questions of who we are, what makes us who we are and where the essence of our nature lies.

The Congress also stars Harvey Keitel, Paul Giamatti, Danny Huston and voice-acting by Jon Hamm.

The Congress screens at Ciné Utopia from July 3. For more information visit utopolis.lu