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In Advance of the Oscars, ‘Bashir’ Attacked on Two Fronts

“Waltz with Bashir” may be the favorite for winning the Oscar in the Foreign Language Film category, but back home in Israel, the film’s director, Ari Folman, is being slammed from both sides of the political map.

First, it was the right-wing pundits who argued that the film — criticizing Israel’s actions in the 1982 Lebanon War — was not patriotic enough and should not represent the country at the Academy Awards. Then, over the weekend, the Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy took on Folman from the left, calling the film “infuriating, disturbing, outrageous and deceptive.” Why? Because “Waltz With Bashir,” according to Levy, does no more than clean the Israeli conscience.

But for Folman, this criticism actually came at the right time. On Saturday, during a panel discussion with foreign film directors, Folman quoted Levy’s critique — arguing that if he is being blasted from the right and from the left, he must be doing something right.

“I think there is a misconception in regard to how tolerant Israel is, at least toward its artists,” Folman told the crowd at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. He added that, even though his film is critical of Israel’s actions in the first war in Lebanon, it became “the darling of the establishment.”

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