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Calgary Film 2017: Wall

By Scott Christensen, October 3 2017 —

Wall adapts David Hare’s monologue of the same name about the Israeli West Bank barrier, a large wall built by the State of Israel to separate the country from Palestinian territories. Directed by Cam Christiansen, the film ambitiously portrays Hare’s writings as an animated documentary. Wall screened during the Calgary International Film Festival.

The film discusses the West Bank barrier tastefully, showing different sides of the conflict and the main factors that go into the various arguments. With no apparent bias, the film presents the reasons behind the wall’s construction and the effects that followed.

Given the wall’s impact on the lives of many Palestinians, it’s hard not to inherently sympathize with those who have no direct involvement in the conflict. The film challenges this by exploring how Israel became compelled to take these measures for the sake of security and how the nation sees itself as a country struggling to protect its future in the world.

Wall shows the complexity of the situation and how the people who have been isolated from the world are pushed to extreme measures of retaliation. It poses the question of whether or not those people would have acted the same way had the wall never been built.

The subject matter is presented with careful thought, taste and insight. However, I found that the animation detracted from the topic. Though the idea of doing an animated documentary is interesting, it could have been better executed for the sake of the film’s subject.

The film uses footage that was shot on location, which could have been used on its own. Instead, the film opted to overlay this footage with animation and 3D motion capture. If this had only been done with specific parts of the film for dramatization, it wouldn’t be as glaring of an issue.

Some parts of the film feel drawn out, if not for any other reason than to make it longer. The end goal of these scenes, such as when graffiti along the wall comes to life, could have been achieved in half the time. These scenes felt unnecessary and redundant after a couple minutes.

Wall is a unique film, if not for its stylistic choices, for its nuanced discussion of a controversial topic.

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