The Congress

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Futurological Congress

The Congress is a 2013 French-Israeli live-action/animation science fiction drama film written and directed by Ari Folman. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Independent film distributor Drafthouse Films announced, along with Films We Like In Toronto, their co-acquisition of the North American rights to the film and a US theatrical and VOD/digital release planned for 2014.

Robin Wright plays an aging actress with a reputation for being fickle and unreliable, so much so that nobody is willing to offer her roles anymore. She agrees to sell the film rights to her digital image to Miramount Studios (a portmanteau of Miramax and Paramount) in exchange for a hefty sum and the promise to never act again. After her body is digitally scanned, the studio will be able to make films starring her using only computer-generated characters.

Twenty years later, her character attends the Futurological Congress, which showcases Miramount’s new technology that allows people to transform themselves into animated avatars. In this mutable illusory state, they can become anything they want to be, be it a perfectly seductive goddess or their favorite action hero. Miramount wants to sell her image to punters, allowing them to transform themselves into her.

According to Folman, some elements of the film were inspired by ‘The Futurological Congress,’ a 1971 black humor science fiction novel by Polish author Stanisław Lem detailing the exploits of the hero of a number of his books, Ijon Tichy, as he visits the Eighth World Futurological Congress at a Hilton Hotel in Costa Rica. The book is Lem’s take on the common sci-fi trope of an apparently Utopian future that turns out to be an illusion. Folman’s Wright is like Lem’s Tichy, split between delusional and real mental states.

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