#TIFF21: “WHERE IS ANNE FRANK” REVIEW
Review by David Baldwin
In the present day, Anne Frank’s diary is housed within a glass display in her home in Amsterdam. As the crowd queues up around the block to see all of the artifacts on display, the glass suddenly breaks and Kitty (Ruby Stokes), the fictional friend Anne wrote her diary entries to, is conjured into reality. She is invisible and confused – why is she there and Anne is not? Whom are all these people walking through the house? As Kitty begins to read the diary and discover more about Anne’s story, she begins to understand what happened and how not much has changed since the Holocaust.
WHERE IS ANNE FRANK is one of the most bold and ambitious films at this year’s festival. It takes a book so many of us have read and know all too well, and examines it from an entirely different point of view. On top of that, the Film merges multiple forms and styles of animation to tell its story, often in imaginative and exciting ways. Great care was taken by Writer/Director Ari Folman (an Oscar nominee for the astonishing Waltz with Bashir) to make the Film feel like as much of an adventurous journey of discovery as it does a gut-wrenching portrayal of one of the darkest times in human history. He pulls no punches here with his ghastly depictions of the Nazi regime, as well as the on-going refugee crisis in the modern times. It is painful and heartbreaking to watch, but also feels completely necessary.
Where Folman stumbles is in the tone of the piece. It is a little too light hearted for adults and a little too mature for children. The Film is a depiction of recorded history, and I am not sure the younger audience will be in tune with the profound and damning comparisons Folman is making. And by making the lead character be Kitty, who has the mind of a naïve young girl, he risks alienating the older audience who know the story already (and will likely need to better explain to their children after the credits roll). It is a delicate balancing act that Folman is successful in managing in some areas, whereas others are a total mess. I kept watching and felt like I was getting lost in the narrative he put together. I feel like WHERE IS ANNE FRANK could have been better finessed in some areas and clearer as to who the intended audience was. This is an important, must-see film for all ages, and it deserved to be a much stronger film.
WHERE IS ANNE FRANK screens at TIFF ’21:
Tue, Sep 14 Princess of Wales 6:00 PM
Wed, Sep 15 digital TIFF Bell Lightbox 1:00 PM
Sat, Sep 18 digital TIFF Bell Lightbox 1:00 PM