Memento International (“Call Me By Your Name”) has boarded “Legend of Destruction,” a thought-provoking animated feature by Israeli filmmaker Gidi Dar (“Ushpizin”), produced by Lama Films (“Tel Aviv on Fire,” “Paradise Now”).
The film’s unique visual style is being created from 1,500 original paintings which are edited and animated together. The paintings and art direction are being handled by David Polonsky and Michael Faust, the artists behind the Oscar-nominated “Waltz With Bashir.”
Dar co-wrote the script with Shuli Rand, a veteran Israeli actor (Shtisel,” “Autonomies”) with whom he also collaborated on “Ushpizin” which competed at Tribeca in 2004. On top of having co-written “Legend of Destruction,” Rand is also leading the voice cast.
Set in Jerusalem during the first Jewish–Roman War, “Legend of Destruction” follows an oppressive Roman governor who is driven out of the city by the people. Due to rampant social inequalities, corruption and injustice, secret groups of religious fanatics appear and seek to rebel in the name of God. Internal disputes between these groups divide the city, leading to civil war and a terrible famine. When the Roman empire comes back to unleash its wrath on Jerusalem, destruction is inevitable.
The film is told from the perspective of Ben Batich, a character whose roots go back to the legends of the destruction of Jerusalem as told in the Talmud. It is a 2,000-year-old story culminating with the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, and which strongly resonates with today’s political turmoil in the region.
“Legend of Destruction” is a long-gestated passion project for Dar, whose credits include “Eddie King,” winner of the Bronze Leopard at Locarno in 1992, as well as the children series “The Kids from Napoleon Hill” and “Deus.” Dar also helmed the documentary films “Shine,” which played at the Berlin Film Festival, and “The Last Wilderness.”
Polonsky is a revered artistic director who collaborated with Ari Folman on his Oscar-nominated “Waltz with Bashir” and “The Congress.” He released a graphic novel adaptation of “The Diary of Anne Frank” which had been brought to the big screen by Folman and will world premiere at Cannes.
Faust, who collaborated with Polonsky on “Waltz with Bashir,” is an illustrator and animator whose short film “Beton” won several awards.
“After eight demanding years, I am proud to see ‘Legend of Destruction’ finally being revealed to the world, and I am thrilled to have Memento International representing us,” said Dar, who added that he’s deeply concerned by the “polarization between the different sections of society that’s getting worse around the world.”
“Political violence has seen a sharp rise, and there is a real danger that we will be overwhelmed by the chaos. It is my hope that this film will serve as an alarm to all of us, warning us of the impending danger we will bring upon ourselves if we don’t wake up and stop this downward spiral,” said the filmmaker, who is producing with Lama Films through his outfit Eddie King Films.
“Legend of Destruction” will mark the first animated feature represented by Memento International. Alexandre Moreau, VP of sales and marketing at the company, described the project as a “truly captivating piece of animation.”
“We were totally amazed by its unique process and art direction. It’s an epic tale about the division and uprising of the people of Jerusalem to fight a common enemy. Heroism, religion, betrayal and war, a strong cocktail for an historical saga!” said Memento Films International.
The company’s sales roster during Cannes includes the competition entry “A Hero” by two-time Oscar winning director Asghar Farhadi, and Josef Kubota Wladyka’s U.S. thriller “Catch The Fair One” which will play at Tribeca. The company is also selling “The Drover’s Wife” by Leah Purcell, and “Huda’s Salon” by Hany Abu Assad.