Cannes 2021, Ari Folman and the reactivated memory of Anne Frank



Where’s Anne Frank!

by Ari Folman

Israeli animated film, 1:39 a.m.

Out of competition

Reactivating the message of hope and humanism contained in Anne Frank’s diary to better draw attention to the tragedy of our time, that of the refugees: this is the whole point of the third animated feature film by ‘Ari Folman, presented Friday out of competition in Cannes. A poetic and inventive tale that sails between the Amsterdam of 1944 and that of today alongside Kitty, the imaginary friend to whom the young girl addressed in her diary.

It takes shape nicely on a stormy day when in the Anne-Frank Museum, the display case containing the precious newspaper shatters. The ink of the words escapes and swirls to give life to the one who was the silent witness of her questions and her fears. Kitty then sets out to find Anne and her family, unaware of the passage of time and the fate of the young girl arrested and deported in 1944 to Bergen-Belsen. Aided in this quest by a young pickpocket named Peter, Kitty crosses paths with a refugee family while reading the newspaper takes her back to the past.

A somewhat heavy didacticism

When contacted by the Anne-Frank Foundation to adapt the famous newspaper, the Israeli filmmaker initially refused. Then he changed his mind by setting two objectives: to address a very young audience who would not have read the book and to tell the story through the character of his imaginary friend to update the narration. The bet is held even if the film sometimes suffers from a rather heavy didacticism and from the awkward parallel established between the Shoah and the fate of the refugees.

For the rest, Ari Folman’s film, despite its relatively classic form, enchants us with a thousand finds and inventions. Like this army made up of characters from tales and mythological figures, including Clark Gable on horseback, launched to attack the Nazi hordes or this suspended train running at full speed towards the bowels of the earth. The violence of the Shoah is represented there metaphorically under the tutelary shadow of the camp represented in Chinese shadow. This camp where the director’s own family arrived around the same time as Anne Frank’s.

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