When you think of family-friendly entertainment, your mind doesn’t necessarily go to the Holocaust first. But Waltz With Bashir and The Congress director Ari Folman has a particular vision in mind, signing up to direct and write an animated film based on the life and diary of Anne Frank.
The untitled project is not necessarily another incarnation of The Diary of Anne Frank, which has had its share of adaptations (including the 1959 Oscar-winning version), but a work inspired by the journal and the archives of the Anne Frank Fonds Basel. Folman and his crew are the first filmmakers to obtain complete access to those archives, founded in 1963 by Frank’s father, so while the premise of an animated Anne Frank story seems slightly odd at this moment, there must be something promising at hand.
The tragic story of Anne Frank has remained familiar and revered since her diary was published by her father, the only surviving member of her family, in 1947. For decades since, the teenager’s musings about life during the Holocaust enthralled sorrowful audiences who likely read the book during school when they themselves were teenagers. And while the required and expected films, plays and History Channel specials already exist, Folman is going the “family-oriented” route because he believes there’s a need to keep her story alive for younger audiences.
The man has a point. We’re at a time when the last survivors of the Holocaust are reaching old age and dying. Young children (and any of those teens who were confused during the Justin Bieber scandal) need to know about the atrocities committed during WWII and what people suffered; Anne Frank’s diary is a tool that helps adolescents understand somewhat better what actually happened from the perspective of someone around their own age. By further translating her story into a work that can be shown and digested by even younger audiences, the messages of the book and the importance of its history can continued to be shared at earlier ages — before those kids get a little bit older and can hear the full story of what happened during the war.
Folman will be the perfect filmmaker to bring the project to life as well. The Oscar-nominated Waltz With Bashir was based on his own traumatic and vivid memories of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon in the form of an animated documentary. The writer and director has already tackled brutal historical topics with sensitivity and power through animation; though Bashir was not necessarily family fare, seeing how he shapes Anne Frank will be a compelling process.
Production begins in winter of 2014, so it’s likely we won’t see anything on this project for at least a couple years.