#TIFF16: “WINDOW HORSES”
Review by Siobhán Rich for Mr. Will Wong
Growing up, National Film Board Animated Shorts like The Cat Came Back and Log Driver’s Waltz helped define what it meant to be Canadian. They represented a support of the arts and a style of animation that were unique and unlike anything produced elsewhere at the time. Ann Marie Fleming’s Movie Window Horses (The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming) is a nostalgic return to those halcyon days at the NFB.
Rosie (Sandra Oh) was raised by her grandparents after her mother died and her father disappeared. Her self-published book of poetry My eye Full, has brought her to the attention of a poetry festival in Shiraz, Iran where she has been invited to share her work. Despite fearing rejection by her peers, Rosie flies to the home of her absentee father and immerses herself in Persian culture. At the festival she meets Dietmar (Don McKellar) a German hipster, Mehrnaz (the sublime Shohreh Aghdashloo) an Iranian professor, and DiDi (Jun Zhu) an exiled Chinese poet. Through them Rosie finds her voice and learns what it means to be a Poet.
The Movie works best when the animation is punctuating the poetry rather than chasing stories about Rosie’s father. In one particular scene early in the Movie, Rosie listens to the muezzins call out the morning prayer and sees rainbows stream from the top of the minarets around her. As someone who lived briefly in the Middle East, the images struck me as particularly beautiful expressing perfectly my own feelings about those first moments at dawn.
In a year punctuated by excellent Animated Movies, Window Horses stands apart thanks to its unique cross-cultural story. The poetry of animation and words will stay with audiences long after the Festival.
Window Horses screens:
Sunday, September 11, 2016 at 2:00 PM Isabel Bader Theatre
Tuesday, September 13, 2016 at 4:45 PM Scotiabank Theatre