New York – Two Israeli animators won an international award on Monday after their film was selected as one of the best featured at Animation Block Party, a prestigious animation competition that took place in New York in July.
Gal Haklay and Shulamit Tager, both graduates of the Bezalel Institute of Arts and Design in Jerusalem, won first place in the original design category for their animated film Scapegoat, chosen from a total of 100 films competing for awards at the festival.
"Winning the competition was a great compliment," the animators told Tazpit Press Service (TPS). "When we received the announcement, we were really excited and honored that our film got selected along with other great animations from around the world."
Haklay and Tager explained that Scapegoat was a modern interpretation of the scapegoat story from the Bible, where a goat was sacrificed in order to cleanse human beings of their sins. The duo said that they derived inspiration for the film from their home city.
"Israel, and more specifically Jerusalem, is where we live and we were influenced by its atmosphere," they said. "The city itself and its surroundings along with its historical and biblical roots are all elements that inspired our story. We were also inspired by numerous Israeli animation movies that we encountered over the course of our studies."
"In our film, instead of a goat, we depicted a human being who is not accepted by society and who finds himself on his way to Azazel," they explained, referring to the rugged mountain cliff in Biblical scripture from which the goat was thrown to its death.
"Throughout the movie, the main character Ben has to deal with the animal inside him," continued the film creators. "He is not human enough to fit in with people in the city, yet not savage enough to fit in with the wild desert. The character's journey also portrays the struggle in searching for individuality within a 'herd.'"
The production of the film was also supported by the Yehoshua Rabinovich Foundation and The Jerusalem Film and Television Fund.
Animation Block Party is the largest animation festival on the East Coast of the United States and is "dedicated to showcasing the world's best independent, professional, and student animation," according to its website.
The Bezalel Institute of Arts and Design is Israel's oldest institute of higher education, having been established in 1906. Bezalel offers courses ranging from fine arts to architecture, photography, visual communication, screen-based arts, art history, and art theory.
"We are proud of our students for their great achievement," said Professor Dudu Mezach, chairman of the Screen-Based Arts Department at Bezalel. "They represent the Bezalel Academy with great honor in many competitions around the world."
Michael Bachner contributed to this article.
Reprinted with permission from TPS.