Filmmaker Cam Christiansen brings documentary WALL back to Calgary for screening at Central Library

Photo Courtesy Cam Christiansen CALGARY, AB: May 09, 2011 -- A still from the upcoming film The Wall, Courtesy / Rona

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Hundreds of film fans took in a February screening of Cam Christiansen and David Hare’s documentary WALL at the British Film Institute’s Southbank, a repertory theatre in London.

But one woman seemed particularly taken by it. After the screening, she stood up to praise the 2017 animated documentary.

“She was talking about how she really liked the film and thought people should see it,” says Christiansen, in an interview with Postmedia from his home in Calgary. “She was really sweet about it. I got off the stage and was walking away and thought ‘Who was that?’ It was Vanessa Redgrave.”

Later that evening, Christiansen met with Redgrave, Charlotte Rampling and Bill Nighy to discuss the film

It was one of the more glamorous nights in Christiansen’s long, impressive journey with the film, a National Film Board documentary that has travelled the world to great acclaim over the past two years.

Christiansen will co-host a Calgary screening of the film on Aug. 24 at the Central Library, which will be followed by a discussion with Marcello Di Cintio, author of 2012’s Walls: Travels Along the Barricades and 2018’s Pay No Heed to the Rockets: Palestine in the Present Tense.

The film premiered in September of 2017 at the Calgary International Film Festival. Based on playwright Hare’s 2009 theatre monologue of the same name, it uses innovative animation, dramatizations and Hare’s voiceover to explore the so-called “separation fence” between Israel and Palestine, a 700-kilometre and $4-billion barrier constructed to combat terrorist attacks from the West Bank.

The film, which used 3D motion-capture technology, gaming and animation tools and hand drawing, took Christiansen seven years to complete. Christiansen said the film got “kind of a slow start” on the global festival circuit but eventually began picking up steam.

“I was kind of miserable at the beginning but it really picked up and we’ve had a lot of fun,” he says. “It’s a really intellectual type of film. We knew it was never going to be a blockbuster, but of course when you work on something like that you hope people will react to it and have some sort of connection to it. I’m thrilled with the reaction to it.”

Christiansen accompanied the film to festivals in San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Denmark, France, Italy, New York, London and Scotland.

In France, WALL screened at the prestigious Annecy International Animation Film Festival for more than 1,000 people.

During its New York run, it received a review — albeit somewhat lukewarm one — in the New York Times.

Given the controversial subject, Christiansen said the biggest surprise has been the lack of “fireworks” during post-screening Q&As.

“That was the biggest shock,” he says. “I think one of the toughest screenings was in Calgary. When it was at the Calgary film festival, there were a few people that responded fairly negatively. At the New York one, the organizers were saying they didn’t want to do a Q&A because they had had things like that and they would get out of hand. We decided we would do it and it was totally a love-in. We had Palestinians coming up and saying they liked it and Jewish people. I was pleased by that.”

Wall(s) with Cam Christiansen and Marcello Di Cintio will take place at the Patricia A. Whelan Performance Hall at the Central Library on Aug. 24 at 7 p.m. Admission is free. To register visit