Imagination and play unite the young stars in these short films from across the globe, while teaching us lessons in friendship, acceptance, and hope.
Please note, some of the films deal with loss of a family member, and costumed monster characters that some may find frightening.
Hadia (The Gift) / Hediye
Dir. by Sinem Sakaoglu
A subtitled, animated short, Hadia takes us on a journey through Aleppo where Tarek grew up. Tarek is six-years-old, and also a super hero. Through the film we see how Tarek would complete his secret mission every year: getting his mom’s birthday gift.. Now that he is in a new home, it is a bit harder to be a super hero and complete this secret mission. That is, until he makes a new friend who helps him find his super powers again, and accomplish his mission.
Hadia is well animated. There are specific landmarks from Aleppo throughout the film, which are a nod to Tarek’s hometown. The film is engaging and endearing, while reminding us that no matter where we live, our strengths are always within us.
Dir. by Matthew Sandager
After the loss of her namesake Grandpa Henry, Henri finds an imaginative way to maintain their special connection. She hopes to find a way to keep their correspondence going. One day she sends letters his way, and imagines the route these would take to reach her grandpa.
Dear Henri combines live action and stop-motion animation, and it works extremely well within the context of the story. The animation enhances the charming conversations Henri imagines she’s having with her grandpa. These imaginings are her way to keep the memory of her grandpa alive, and their connection as well. Although a bittersweet story, the film shows us how children and their imagination can help deal with the loss of a loved one. A really great film.
Doctor of Monster / Médico de Monstro
Dir. by Gustavo Teixeira
Eduardo’s classmates do not appreciate his choice of profession as a doctor of monsters. At home, Eduardo and his sister, Julia’s room is decorated with posters from classic Universal monster films. While waiting for their father to come home from working in a hospital, Eduardo likes watching the Universal version of Frankenstein. One late night, Eduardo and Julia receive an unlikely visitor who requires some ‘assistance’. This visit helps keep Eduardo’s dream alive.
Doctor of Monster is also subtitled, and some animation is included to help tell part of the story. The combination works well in this case too. As someone who loves these older monster movies, this film is a cool nod to the classic horror movies of the distant past. The film also acknowledges that is is okay to have interests that are different from other — liking ‘monsters’ at a young age, for instance.
Sherbert Rozencrantz, You’re Beautiful
Dir. by Natalie van den Dungen
Milly loves nothing in the world more than her pet guinea pig Sherbert, and her dollhouse. She enjoys taking photos of Sherbert, and build him different sets to play in. When her mother invites her cousin over to a sleepover, her cousin calls her a ‘weirdo’ and makes fun of her because of Sherbert.
Milly questions herself but in fact, Sherbert is just to cute. How could Milly need any other playmate? Sherbert also helps Milly’s imagination flourish. And clearly Milly and her cousin are just different people. Sherbert Rozencrantz, You’re Beautiful is a great reminder that it is quite alright to have different tastes, and be ‘different’ or ‘weird’. I quite liked how the film reinforces the idea that someday ‘weirdos’ meet other ‘weirdos’ and just like that, kindred spirits connect.
The Wishing Cranes
Dir. by Kaiya Telle, Ellen Arnold, Thomas Anderholm
This 3D animated short film is about Yuki and Sho, two orphan siblings living in Japan in the 1960s. Sho is a responsible brother to his younger sister, Yuki, and a hard working paper boy. The premise of the story is that if you fold a 1000 cranes, you get a wish. Yuki wishes to be able to spend more time together as a family.
This animated short film comes from Ringling College of Art + Design. Its story is engaging and heartwarming. I’d say the animation could be a bit more polished, but that is a bit nit picky. Overall, I liked the film for being short and sweet.
This selection of films from the Adventures from Around the World program are outstanding. The production level is high, and most importantly, their stories are honest and really engaging. This program screens March 14, 15, 18, 20, and 22 as part of TIFF Kids International Film Festival.