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‘Waltz with Bashir’ team take on Anne Frank story

The diary the German-born, Jewish teenager kept, while hiding in an Amsterdam attic in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands until her capture in 1944, is one of the most-read books in the world. — AFP picThe diary the German-born, Jewish teenager kept, while hiding in an Amsterdam attic in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands until her capture in 1944, is one of the most-read books in the world. — AFP picPARIS, Sept 18 — A graphic novel version of The Diary of Anne Frank by the creators of the Oscar-nominated film Waltz with Bashir will roll off the presses next month, its publishers said Monday.

Writer-director Ari Folman and illustrator David Polonsky — who made the acclaimed 2008 animated documentary about Israeli soldiers during the 1982 invasion of Lebanon — are also making a film about Frank, to appear in 2019.

The diary the German-born, Jewish teenager kept, while hiding in an Amsterdam attic in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands until her capture in 1944, is one of the most-read books in the world.

Folman said he had some insight into Frank’s suffering since his own parents were Holocaust survivors.

“Anne and her family arrived at the gates of Auschwitz the same day my parents arrived there,” the filmmaker said.

Frank died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp sometime in early 1945, aged 15. The camp was liberated by British troops in April.

Israeli-born Folman told AFP that when the Anne Frank foundation suggested they adapt the diary “our first response was, ‘No way!’” —  for them, the diary was sacrosanct.

But after thinking about for a while, they realised it would be crucial to bring the story to a new generation.

‘Biting sense of humour’

“I am afraid we are coming to a time when there will be no survivors of the Holocaust left alive, and no more witnesses to tell their stories,” Folman said.

“There is a severe threat that the things we have to learn (from the Holocaust) will not be taught and learned if we don’t find a new language for them.”

The graphic novel will first appear in Dutch, German, French and Spanish in October with an English version following in the spring.

The 160-page book is an abridged version of the original because “it would take more than 3,500 pages to fully adapt it”, Folman said.

However, several letters Anne Frank wrote to her imaginary friend Kitty have been included in full.

And Folman said they had tried to “preserve Anne’s rather biting sense of humour, her sarcasm and her obsession with food.”

The original “has a lot of humour,” Polonsky said. “It is a beautiful work by a beautiful person... and the best thing we can do is just carry on this spirit and treat it as a work of art, and I am not afraid to say that it should even be a bit of entertainment.”

The graphic novel will appear in around 50 countries from October, with publication in other languages coming later, a spokesman for the foundation told AFP. — AFP

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