TIFF 2021: ‘Where Is Anne Frank’ Shows How History Can Repeat Itself

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Where Is Anne Frank

Where Is Anne Frank is an animated film written and directed by Ari Folman. In an Amsterdam “one year from now,” an incident at the Anne Frank Museum brings Anne’s imaginary friend Kitty (Ruby Stokes) to life. Kitty goes on a journey to find the missing Frank family, taking the diary with her-which triggers a citywide manhunt. While out in the city, Kitty encounters a street thief named Peter (Sebastian Croft) and learns that even though decades may have passed, some injustices continue to persist…

What makes this film stand out is its gorgeous animation, which feels like a series of paintings that come to life; quite literally, in Kitty’s case. Whenever Anne or someone else opens the diary, its words merge in a swirl of ink before finally giving form to the red-haired, spirited Kitty. In flashbacks, the Nazis are depicted as ghoulish figures with blank white faces, jet black eyes, and robes that the Grim Reaper would feel at home in. Even their dogs are described as hellish creatures with razor-sharp teeth and glowing red eyes. And one of Anne’s dreams even features figures from Greek mythology, as well as a horseback-borne Clark Gable, engaging in battle with the Nazi forces. Watching this movie, there were times I had to pause and appreciate the work that cinematographer Tristan Oliver and the animation team put into each frame of the film. Folman said he chose animation as a way to reach younger audiences, and in my book, he succeeded.

Folman also successfully balances past and present in his script, using Kitty as the link between the two. Viewers will enter the film aware of Anne’s fate, but seeing Kitty slowly learn the truth is heartbreaking-especially as the past sessions feature Kitty and Anne talking to each other. Even though Kitty was a figment of Anne’s imagination, Stokes manages to infuse her with humanity and the desire to help others, as well as an outspoken spirit. There is definitely a bright future ahead for the Bridgerton star, who manages to handle a vocal performance just as well as a real life-one. Emily Carey voices Anne, showing her as the teenager she was. She admired the movie stars of her age, she rebuffed boys’ efforts to try and date her, and she had strong opinions about the other people her family was rooming with.

The film also shines by having Kitty encounter multiple refugees in Amsterdam who are being threatened with deportation. This not only serves as a parallel to what Anne and her family went through, but it also serves as the crux of the film. In the same way that The Vigil made it clear that the Nazi regime needs to be utterly stamped out, Where Is Anne Frank says that we should take Anne’s words to the heart rather than slapping her name on bridges and museums.

Where Is Anne Frank mixes beautiful animation with a timely message, showing that it would be better to live by people’s example instead of building monuments in their image. In one of her diary entries, Anne wrote that humanity should be kind and compassionate to each other; if a younger audience takes nothing else from this film, I hope they keep that lesson in their hearts.

Where Is Anne Frank had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in July and screened at the Toronto International Film Festival.


Where Is Anne Frank
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

Where Is Anne Frank mixes beautiful animation with a timely message, showing that it would be better to live by people’s example instead of building monuments in their image. In one of her diary entries, Anne wrote that humanity should be kind and compassionate to each other; if a younger audience takes nothing else from this film, I hope they keep that lesson in their hearts.