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Foreign Oscar Entry Review: ANINA

Reviews
by Carlos Aguilar
October 31, 2013 2:55 PM
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Alfredo Soderguit's 'Anina'
Alfredo Soderguit's 'Anina'

Anina, Uruguay's Submission for the Academy Award Nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. U.S. : None Yet. International Sales Agent: Raindogs Cine 


Just as 3D Animation has become the all-engulfing form of the animation genre, a ray of light comes directly from South America to reignite the flame of traditional animation. Alfredo Soderguit’s film ANINA is not only refreshing because of its aesthetic, but because it depicts a different cultural perspective in a medium sporadically developed in Latin America. Both adorable and smart, the film takes advantage of the peculiar animation style that for all its little imperfections is all the more beautiful.

“Capicua” means palindrome in Spanish and much to her discontent, the endearing title character was cursed with a triple palindrome combination. Anina Yatay Salas, the girl’s full name, can be read both forwards and backwards, a quality that Anina ( Federica Lacaño) sees as an abomination.  However, the ten-year-old "Capicua girl”, as her classmates have nicknamed her, has bigger problems than her curious name. After a confrontation with her worse enemy Yisel ( Lucía Parrilla), an overweight girl in their class who Anina calls a “she elephant”, they must both face the consequences. In order to punish the girls the school’s principal gives each one a black wax-sealed envelope and forbids them to open it under any circumstance and from telling anyone about it for the next week. Such a seemingly simple request becomes a tremendous feat to accomplish in the hands of mischievous Anina.

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Her feud with Yisel is not only about the name-calling, but also about her romantic crush, Yonatan (Pedro Cruz). With the help of her dear friend Florencia ( Guillermina Pardo), Anina will try to steal Yisel’s envelope to uncover the mysterious punishment. Added to her hilarious school drama, Anina wants some answers from her parents. She wants to know why would anyone deliberately put their daughter through life with such a horrendous name, at least in her eyes. Loving and patient, her parents (voiced by María Mendive and César Troncoso) explain how unique her name is, and how proud she should be. Especially proud of her name is her father, a rock and roll lover who dedicatedly creates palindrome phrases as gifts for his young daughter. Unsatisfied with their responses and caught up with her other dilemmas, sassy Anina must resolve things her own way.

Few animated films can convey a classic tale with a message about family and friendship packed with intelligent humor. As if taken from the pages of a children’s book, there is a subtle quirkiness about all the characters, and their oversized heads and simple features give the film a special look. On occasion, the story goes into funny tangents that materialize in Anina’s imagination, like her vision of her and her mother as happily misbehaving piglets or her induction into an exclusive league of people with the ugliest names in the world. It is amusing to see how the story deals with the importance children give to things that would seem irrelevant to adults. The magnitude of Anina’s problems can only be explained by her age, and such a charming perspective makes the film really special.

Soderguit’s film is lively, witty, and full of heart. It is about putting oneself in another person's shoes and realizing that sometimes the huge problems that cause headaches are not as relevant as long as the truly important things are still in place. There is no one better than a child to teach a lesson about what really matters. The film defies convention by not trying to Americanize its concept, but rather embracing its own Uruguayan peculiarities that also apply, and will surely connect, to other Latin American countries. From the voiceover work to the inclusion of classic songs from the region, this is as authentic a film as one will find from the South American nation, and the fact that it is an animated piece turns it into an work of ingenious originality. ANINA is a heartwarming tale that is destined to become a classic, an utter delight, which this writer fell in love with.


Read more about all the 76 Best Foreign Language Film Submission for the 2014 Academy Awards

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