Lebanon War Animation Wins Big at Israeli Oscars

'Waltz with Bashir', the animated documentary about 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre, grabs 6 gongs.

"Waltz with Bashir," writer and director Ari Folman's animated documentary about the Lebanon war, won big yesterday at the Ophir Awards, Israel's version of the Oscars.

The movie, which was an official committee selection at this year's Cannes Film Festival, walked away with awards in six categories in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, including best film - which means it will represent Israel at the Academy Awards in the best foreign film category. It also won best direction, best script, best soundtrack, best artistic design and best editing.

"Waltz with Bashir" follows the director's real-life attempts to reconstruct his missing memory from the time he served as a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces during the first Lebanon war, which began in 1982.

"I want to dedicate this prize to the eight babies born to the crew members over the four years that it took to make," Folman said Tuesday night. "I hope that when they grow up, in 15 years' time, they will see this film on the big screen and it will have nothing to do with their lives."

The ceremony was held as Finance Ministry officials announced their decision to cut funds supporting Israeli cinema. Most of the actors and directors who took to the stage on Tuesday, expressed their objection to the treasury's planned cutbacks.

"Sorry that we manage to improve the country's image in the world," said actor Shmil Ben Ari, who won the best supporting actor award for his performance in the movie "Lost Islands."

"[Israeli] cinema is the best ambassador we can have," he said. "Its success must continue. We call on the treasury - don't cut the budget for Israeli cinema."

The two movies nominated for the largest number of prizes, "Lost Islands" (14 nominations) and "7 Days" (13 nominations), ended up receiving few awards.

Moni Moshonov whistled and cheered after he was announced as the winner in the best actor category for his role in "Lost Islands." "I'd like to thank my father," he said. "Dad, you taught me everything." Moshonov was nominated for the award twice in the past. He began his career on the popular television show "Zehu Ze."

The prize for best documentary was given to director Ron Tal for his work, "Children of the Sun," which focused on the socialistic upbringing of children on Israeli kibbutzim.

A lifetime achievement award was given to Yoel Zilberg, who directed hits such as Hasamba and the Kuni Lemel series before turning to mainstream television.