Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Latinbeat: Little Voices (2010)

The final film for me at this years Latinbeat at Lincoln Center was the animated 3D documentary called Little Voices.

The narration is taken from interviews with several children living in Columbia. The visuals are their stories brought to life via their drawings. This is a kids eye view of war and violence and happiness and families and life in the country. Its an amazing film that manages to show that hope and life go one even in the face of violence.

The animation is amazing. Its done so that it seems like paper cut outs brought to life. At times it seems like origami, at other times its conventional 2D animation and still other times its a mixture of styles and real objects. Its an absolute treat for the eyes and it's a shame that while the screening was well attended it didn't have many, if any of the New York animation people I've seen at other films. Frankly this is the sort of film people need to see because it makes clear that there are more ways to use the medium other than say Pixar computer animation, classic Disney animation or Tim Burton style stop motion.

While I understand why it was animated, it brings us closer to the kids and destroys the distance a typical documentary technique might have created; I'm at a loss as to why the film had to be in 3D. yes the sense of depth is really cool at times, but mostly it doesn't add anything. Also the fact the film is subtitled into English adds to the eye strain as that adds a layer of image that the animators never took into account and sometimes looking at the words and image made me go cross eyed.

The stories told have both darkness and light in them. A father goes missing, several of the kids describe being caught in a battle, one describes the horrors of being forced to be a guerrilla and one is blown up. Its not a wholly happy story...

...and yet there is hope as we see the injured child play soccer, the young girl finds her mother's kiss allows her to sleep despite fear, and there is just the joys of being a kid. It is life in all it's myriad forms.

If there is any flaws the film is devoid of details, such as what is any of the children's names.

While not the best film of the year it is one of the most joyous (if only in that it shows life goes on and can thrive). When the film ended I had a tear in my eye. It was also the only film of the four I saw at Latinbeat where the audience seemed to applaud of it's own accord (some of the others had none or seemed to spark it because the director was there)

This is one to search out. I don't know what the release plans are but do keep an eye out for it.

I should mention that the film is very brief, I think it's under 70 minutes, certainly it's not the 75 minutes advertised. There is nothing wrong with the length, however the shortness of the film may keep it from getting a wide release so do keep an extra careful eye out for it.

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