Editor’s Notes: The following review is part of our coverage for TIFF’s Kids International Film Festival which runs from April 8th to April 21st at TIFF Bell Lightbox. For more information on upcoming TIFF film series visit http://tiff.net and follow TIFF on Twitter at @TIFF_NET.
Uruguay’s Anina is a stunning and rich animate film that circumvents the overused Disney models of animation, instead creating worlds of depth and texture that leaves the rust on automobiles but enraptures the viewer with stunning frames of light passing through droplets of rain. It tells a simple story of growth, understanding, and tolerance but does so with tremendous imagination as we see the world through Anina’s eyes, the titular character that doesn’t know why she has to have a name that is a palindrome as this gives her much grief on the playground, a proving ground for the kids of many cultures where one faux pas can dictate your reputation for the rest of the year. We see a world that is a little scary at times but also filled with unfathomable beauty, dandelion seeds drifting through the breeze become magical and the teacher with the sour demeanor we all had in grade school appears seven feet tall and larger than life when seen through the eyes of a child.
…creating worlds of depth and texture that leaves the rust on automobiles but enraptures the viewer with stunning frames of light passing through droplets of rain.
We follow Anina to school on a fateful day that will eventually provide valuable life lessons but not before a mishap with an estranged girl causes a recess skirmish that sends her tumbling across the playground as Anina has found herself in her first significant trouble. Her first trip to the principals office is cause for significant dread and there will be no immediate satisfaction as a sealed envelope that she must keep for one week without opening contains her punishment. She must face her parents, but this isn’t cause for dread as they are understanding and progressive, representative of ideals at odds with nosy neighbors around the world. Her real punishment is anticipation and that can be a pretty harsh punishment at any age, a useful and more effective alternative to the harsher disciplinary tactics of yesteryear.
Anina is accessible to viewers of all ages and communicates simple humanist ideas that every child should be given the opportunity to consider.
Characters speak of classes and morality, offering heavy ideas to children that are more prepared to tackle these concepts than you may be aware. Anina learns a lesson in empathy as she eventually finds common ground with the girl from the other side of the tracks and learns that there is usually a story behind a frown. She also learns that dad’s will eventually embarrass you (particularly the good ones) and that moms will love you even if you find yourself in trouble every once in a while. The ideas and emotions are universally accessible as I watched it with my own children and even my sons knew exactly what was going on despite their inability to read the subtitles. They all want to see it again, illustrating a well crafted film’s ability to fully communicate ideas to the viewer in multiple ways.
Anina is accessible to viewers of all ages and communicates simple humanist ideas that every child should be given the opportunity to consider. Its animation techniques create an immersive world both filled with the textures of everyday life and colored by the boundless imagination of a child. It is a beautiful slice of life film that will enrapture the whole family and give us all gentle reminders on the importance of empathy and how the harshest and most effective punishments are usually generated in our own minds.
Anina is a beautiful slice of life film that will enrapture the whole family and give us all gentle reminders on the importance of empathy and how the harshest and most effective punishments are usually generated in our own minds.