WARDI (THE TOWER)
France, Norway, Sweden, 2018 / 79 min / French version (FR) / Stop Motion
A captivating animation about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seen through the eyes of a little girl and a tale about coming-of-age in exile.
Beirut, Lebanon, today. Wardi, an eleven-year-old Palestinian girl, lives with her whole family in the refugee camp where she was born. Her beloved great-grandfather Sidi was one of the first people to settle in the camp after being chased from his home village back in 1948. The day Sidi gives her the key to his old house back in Galilee, she fears he may have lost hope of someday going home. As she searches for Sidi’s lost hope around the camp, she collects her family’s testimonies, from one generation to the next.
The Tower is a deeply emotional fiction based on interviews with Palestinian refugees in Lebanon retelling their true stories. Director Mats Grorud wanted to show the other side of that tragedy, people with humour, warmth and hospitality: “I wanted to show their bright perspectives on life, in contrast to all they have endured. How they manage as human beings, and not just economically. They aren’t laughing all the time, but keep the faith, and I wanted to show the means in which they survive.”
“An evocative view of the Palestinian crisis, portraying 70 years of strife through the eyes of an 11-year-old girl exiled in Beirut, Mats Grorud’s The Tower offers up a dark if rather accessible depiction of how Israel’s creation in 1948 resulted in the forced displacement of a quarter of a million Palestinians — most of whom have never returned to their homeland. […] The animated feature, which mixes claymation and 2D techniques, is at times reminiscent of Ari Folman’s Waltz With Bashir, especially in its sequences detailing the 1982 Lebanon War and the deadly attacks on Palestinian refugee camps. […] Flashbacks reveal various stages of the Middle East's turbulent recent history, including the rise of the PLO in the 1960s, the bombings of Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War and the attacks on refugees in 1982. […] As grim as that sounds, The Tower is filled with moments of bittersweet humor and shreds of hope in the character of Wardi, while Grorud’s playful animation helps lighten the load of his discourse. […] Grorud’s debut feature remains a well-researched and penetrating look at an ongoing crisis, — nearly 1.5 million Palestinians still live in refugee camps throughout the Arab world — allowing viewers, especially younger ones, to grasp the human repercussions of a neverending conflict.” Jordan Mintzer, Hollywood Reporter, 13/06/2018
Mats Grorud is a film director and animator from Norway. He previously directed two short films and has worked as an animator on several feature films, documentaries and music videos. During his childhood, his mother worked as a nurse in refugee camps in Lebanon. In the 1990s, Grorud studied at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon while working as an English and Animation teacher in the Burj el Barjaneh refugee camp. Based on the testimonies of refugees and his own experiences, he wrote the script for his first feature film, The Tower (2018).
- 2018 – The Tower
- 2009 – Santa Klaus (short)
- 2008 – Min Bestemor Beijing (short)