The Tower (Tornet)

in coproduction with Tenk.TV, Norway and Les Contes Modern, France


Sweden – the 16 of November 2018
Norway – the 30 of November 2018
France – the 27th of feburari 2019
Denmark – the 5th of april 2019


Director: Mats Grorud
Scriptwriter: Mats Grorud, Trygve Allister Diesen, Ståle Stein Berg
Art Director: Rui Tenreiro
Music Composer: Nathanaël Bergèse
Animation Supervisor Stop motion: Pierre-Luc Granjon
Animation studio: Foliascope
Animation Supervisor 2D: Hefang Wei
DoP: Sara Sponga/ Nadine Buss
Editors: Silje Nordseth / Carsten Meinich / Anders Bergland / Margrete Vinnem
Sound designers: Cloudberry ab, by Christian Holm, Erik Bjerknes
Produced by Frode Søbstad –, Patrice Nezan and Laurent Versini – Les Contes Modernes – Annika Hellström, Cinenic Film


Dagens Nyheter


Skånska Dagbladet

Ystads Allehanda

‘The Tower’: Film Review | Annecy 2018
The Hollywood Reporter,  Jordan Mintzer
June 13, 2018

Grorud’s debut feature remains a well-researched and penetrating look at an ongoing crisis, — nearly 1.5 million Palestinians still live in refugee camps throughout the Arab world — allowing viewers, especially younger ones, to grasp the human repercussions of a neverending conflict.

Annecy: Mats Grorud on Palestine, Animation and Hope
Variety, Emilio Mayorga
June 10, 2018

Grorud’s debut ‘The Tower’ premieres at Annecy.

Also appears on : Arab Times

I Am Always Committed To Things Important In Life: Interview with Mats Grorud
Zippy Frames, Jair Flores
June 27, 2018

Mats landed in Annecyfor the world premiere of his film: The Tower. A film about the life and origins of Wardi, a Palestinian eleven-year-old who lives in a refugee camp in Lebanon.

Time to Get Animated – It’s My First Visit to the Annecy Film Festival
First Showing, Alex Billington
June 12, 2018

Gode kritikker for The Tower etter premieren i Annecy
Rush Print
June 15, 2018

Critique : La Tour
Cineuropa, Fabien Lemercier
June 12, 2018

Le premier long du Norvégien Mats Grorud retrace avec intelligence et tendresse l’histoire d’une famille d’un camp de réfugiés palestiniens au Liban.

Mats Grorud • Réalisateur
Cineuropa, Fabien Lemercier
June 13, 2018

Le cinéaste norvégien Mats Grorud nous parle de son premier long métrage, La Tour, un film d’animation dévoilé à Annecy.

La Tour au Festival d’Annecy : «Nous voulons rendre compte de la complexité du monde»
Le Figaro, Nathalie Simon
June 10, 2018

Le producteur délégué Patrice Nezan défend le long-métrage d’animation du réalisateur norvégien Mats Grorud qui rend compte de la situation des réfugiés palestiniens au Liban.


Special Jury Award– Imaginaria, Italy

GRAND PRIZE AWARD and AUDIENCE AWARD – Skip International D-Cinema festival, Japan

FIRST PRIZE – Feature Film Competition at the Anibar festival in Kosovo!!

First Prize for the Feature Film category – PEJA Anibar 10th Animation International Film Festival, (Kosovo)

Grand Prize Award for Feature Films category – Seoul 23rd International Cartoon & Animation Festival 2019

Jury Special Award and Best Soundtrack Award – LISBONNE Monstra Lisbon Animation Festival

Secondary School Students Prize – ARCUEIL (Val-de-Marne), Young Public International Festival,

Jury Award – Festival des Toiles filantes, PESSAC (Gironde),

Liv Ullmann’s Peace Prize and 2nd Prize for Best Animated Feature – HICAGO International Children’s Film Festival

Best Edit award – TRONDHEIM Kosmorama Trondheim Internasjonale

ANNECY International Film Festival
SYDNEY Palestinian Film Festival
HELSINKI Love & Anarchy festival
BERGEN International Film Festival
MONTPELLIER Rencontres Nationales Ecole & Cinéma
BUSAN International Film Festival
MAPUTO Fast Forward Festival – Ciclo de Cinema
RAMALLAH Palestine Cinema Days
GAZA Palestine Cinema Days
SEVILLA This is European cinema festival
LONDON Palestine Film Festival
CAIRO International Film Festival
BRUSSELS Mediterranean Film Festival
MARRAKECH International Film Festival
KARAMA Human rights film festival
PARIS Carrefour de l’animation
VAL DE MARNE CinéJunior festiva
PROVENCE/CORSE/LANGUEDOC Au Cinéma pour les Droits de l’homme
BUENOS AIRES Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente, BAFICI


In coproduction with Tenk.TV, Norway

The Tower (Tornet)

Beirut, Lebanon, Today.
Wardi, an eleven-year-old Palestinian girl, lives with her whole family in
the refugee camp where she was born. Her beloved great-grandfather
Sidi was one of the first people to settle in the camp after being chased
from his home back in 1948. The day Sidi gives her the key to his old
house back in Galilee, she fears he may have lost hope of someday
going home. As she searches for Sidi’s lost hope around the camp, she
will collect her family’s testimonies, from one generation to the next.

The film is based on interviews with Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.

Classic puppet animation for the camp scenes. 2D animation for the historical scenes.
We use footage from the camp and area as backgrounds, and the set is based of research done in the camps.
For the historical scenes we use 2D analog multiplane technique. It is a style that Mats has developed and used in his previous films.

Wardi is 9 years old. A curious girl that asks all the wrong questions. Cares for her great-granddad.
Old granddad Sidi is 85  years old. 1st generation refugee. One of the last in the camp still alive that was actually born in Palestine.
Raed is 32 years old. He was born during the 80s. “It`s easier with pigeons than humans” he says. He has given up all hope for the future.

MATS GRORUD is a film director and animator from Norway. He previously directed two
short films and has worked as an animator on several feature films, documentaries and music
videos. During his childhood, his mother worked as a nurse in refugee camps in Lebanon. In
the 1990s, Mats studied at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon while working as an
English and Animation teacher in the Burj el Barjaneh refugee camp. Based on the testimonies
of the refugees and his experience, he wrote the script for his first-feature film, The Tower.

2009 SANTA KLAUS, short film, co-directed with Robin Jensen.
2008 MY GRANDMOTHER BEJING, short film

2005 ASYLUMSEEKERS, short film directed by Kaja Polmar.
GRANDPA IS A RAISIN, feature film directed by Pjotr Sapegin.


This article is an output of the Film Criticism and Journalism workshop which is being organized within the project “Development of animation culture between Western Balkans and Visegrad Group” implemented by Anibar and Civil Association for the Support of the Animated Film, Primanima Ltd.,Institute of Cultural Studies, Faculty of Humanities, Marie Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin, The Academy of Performing Arts in Prague – Film and TV School – Department of Animated Film.

Mats Grorud’s stop motion animated feature film debut The Tower calls for attention to the lives of the refugees in a touching and reaffirming way. This year Anibar’s theme is “hopes and fears”, and through the art of animation we all get to share exactly that. It is a story about fear of extinction and the painstaking fight of generations of people to keep the hope alive and stop the nightmare from happening.

This is a film one can recommend to any person of any age. It uses all the means necessary to tell the story and it never feels pretentious. Every character serves its purpose and there is something unique about their design that compliments the narrative so well. The story here is of Wardi, a young Palestinian girl living in a crowded refugee camp filled with square-like apartments stacked on top of each other like boxes, merging into big towers that overlook everything. From top to bottom, each of the “boxes” contains stories of heartbreak and battles for freedom. Through Wardi’s interactions we get to discover an intricate and poignant history of her people, from the founding of Israel in 1948 up till now. Unusually creative ways are used to blend fiction with real life not just in the context of plot but also in its artistic aspect. The film combines stop motion animation used for depiction of the present time with Moho 2-D animation (which Grorud used previously in his shorts) for representation of the past explained to Wardi by her elders. It also uses real life documentary footage in order to show war and the conditions of the refugees. All means are employed in such a clever way that, as soon as you become comfortable with the world presented to you, you’re being pulled back into reality by the flip off a switch. The film also uses actual photographs of refugee families as a way to pull down the curtain and expose us to the core message of the film. Those snapshots of family are the film’s icons and they are the reason this film came to fruition in the first place.

Director of the film is also the screenwriter and if you didn’t know anything about him or his background before watching The Tower you’d think he is Palestinian as well. On the contrary, Mats Grorud is an animator from Norway with a background in stop motion animation. The inspiration for the film came from his exposure to Palestinian refugees met while he was in Lebanon. This kind of story can have its own little traps, and a less talented director and screenwriter would have fallen for every single one. Instead, Mats Grorud shifts the focus of such stories from tragedy to resilience and the paradoxes this might create. He shows us a family’s unbreakable bond and the impact the past still has on their lives. Quoting from the film: We don’t live tragic lives. Our lives experienced tragedy. Grorud managed to make an allegorical tale about something we hear a lot in the news and he made it fresh, exciting and subversive in so many ways. Such stories usually cast blame and judgment on the other side but in this film one of Wardi’s family members manages to throw in an objective remark about the whole situation and proves once again that not everything is black and white. The Tower is filled with nuances and each new character we encounter helps broaden our horizons. We climb up the tower and we are rewarded with the knowledge of the ones who have built it over the years.

Our past is the foundation on which our future is built on, and this film is a shining example of that. The film’s universality and creativity make it a must-watch for young and old and I wouldn’t be surprised if it helps bridging the gap between the two, and sparks up meaningful and necessary exchange.