I saw a number of films at the Canberra International Film Festival this year, but the film that resonated most with me was Ari Folman's The Congress. There was only one screening of this film and the theatre was sadly mostly empty. CIFF Artistic Director Lex Lindsay mentioned at the screening that this was his favourite film of the festival and it is easy to see why.
This is a film like no other. This is the direction I would like to see film go into. It takes risks and plays with some big ideas that will definitely alienate or inspire the audience. It is a film that needs multiple viewings to fully appreciate it.
Robin Wright, plays herself in the near future, when the advancing age of on-screen actors leaves them unpopular and unwanted. The solution for sustaining her career is certainly inventive: for a princely fee, Wright’s digital image will be scanned for further use in a computer-generated guise only, but she can never act again in her flesh-and-blood form. The film then flash-forwards two decades to dystopian times, where technology and pharmacology now allow a wider-spread interaction between animated avatars and humanity.
Scout Tafoya's review sums up the message of the film perfectly, which I wholly agree with.
"If tomorrow we could end disease but it meant the end of motion pictures, who would give up fantasy for reality? That is the terrifying core of 'The Congress.' We need stories to mask the hollowness of existence. Movies have given my life more meaning than any religious text ever has, but they're as distracting as they are enlightening".