Annecy: 'Collateral' Writer David Hare Talks Being in Front of the Camera in 'Wall'

Courtesy of Annecy International Animation Film Festival
'Wall'

"This takes animation back to what you might call a poetic roughness," he said of the black-and-white film that explores the 440-mile Israeli-Palestinian border wall.

Though he's better known for his work behind the camera as the Oscar-nominated writer of The Hours and The Reader, as well as the recent Netflix series Collateral, David Hare takes a starring role front and center in Wall. Or at least an animated version of him does.

"This is not Disney, this is not Pixar," says Hare about the visually jarring, black-and-white film directed by Cam Christiansen that is screening in competition at the Annecy Animated Film Festival. "This is deliberately handcrafted and takes animation back to what you might call a poetic roughness, rather than that very finished look you get from massively financed films. It’s just one man with a computer."

The film took Christiansen seven years to make.

While the Berlin Wall was universally hated by citizens of both sides, this wall is viewed vastly differently depending on where you stand. On the Israeli side, the wall is seen as a massive success in improving security and cutting down on terrorism, while in Gaza it is seen as a de facto land grab, says Hare.

At 440 miles, it is four times the length and twice as high as the Berlin Wall, nearly 500 feet thick in some places and cost $4 billion to construct. "And the scale of the wall, I really don’t think anybody understands the scale who hasn’t visited it and seen just how enormous it is, how far it stretches and what a massive physical fact it is in the lives of people on both sides of the wall."

Hare, himself not previously a fan of animation, said the jarring black-and-white visual style lends itself to the rawness of the subject.

"We wanted to find a completely new way of looking at it and there is something about the sheer imagery of the natural beauty of the area, the beauty of the graffiti and the beauty of the construction that really suits itself to animation. I mean, it's a visual feast," he says. Hare admits to a lack of knowledge of animated films — "I haven’t even seen Frozen," he joked — but is passionate about innovation in film. 

"That’s what excites me. What I like about it is that it isn’t in any genre at all," he says. "And so because of that, I think peoples’ reactions are completely varied, quite apart from the political charge of the subject."

The writer also says genre film is dead, thanks in part to series. "The audience knows genre inside out. You can’t make a film noir now, you just can’t, because there have been so many. A romantic comedy? Please. The formula is whacked," Hare says. That led him to Collateral, starring Carey Mulligan, a "police procedural" that he worked hard to construct with no elements of a procedural. He also penned the upcoming Ralph Fiennes-directed The White Crow, a pic about Russian dancer Rudolf Nureyev’s defection to the West in 1961. 

Hare sees more television projects for himself in the future. "Why would you not if you’re a writer?" he asks of the new creator-based paradigm. "It’s a rebalancing, and the rebalancing is that in the pecking order for however many years in Hollywood, the writers have been down at the bottom. Now suddenly writers have worked out there is a medium they can be right at the top, and that medium is called television."