Theatre and Film

Ari Folman at the ICA

 The Congress, 2014

The Congress, 2014

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You may remember the brilliant animation set in Lebanon Waltz with Bashir. Director Ari Folman brings us The Congress (Israel/Poland/Luxembourg/France/Germany) in which Robin Wright (House of Cards) plays herself as an actress now out of favour with the fickle Hollywood.

Based on Solaris by Stanisław Lem (Solaris), The Congress is “both a sobering comment on fame’s transience and a dazzling visual feast.” It is more than that.

Where Waltz with Bashir was based on Folman’s memories of the aftermath of the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre when he was just a 19-year old soldier, this film deals with the future and as it does so, raises important topics that most of us have no doubt been discussing. If you saw the Swedish series Real Humans, or the films A.I (Spielberg) or Surrogates, you’d have asked one or two ethical questions regarding human enhancement and our capacity to “create” or imitate life using robots. In The Congress Robin Wright visits the Futurological Congress, which showcases Miramount’s new technology allowing people to transform themselves into animated avatars. She is made proposals and takes decisions that go well beyond the scope of any of these earlier dramas; hologramming, freezing the body, rights to your own physical likeness. In an age of having your body altered as you might have once had your hair done, one can imagine appearing at the clinic with a photo and saying, as people used to at the hair dressers come with a page ripped from a magazine “Make me look like Madonna.” Congress was awarded best animated feature film at the 26th European Film Awards, go see it this month at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts.

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