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Animated film paints stories of exile

1.4 The Crossing
The medium of animated painting in The Crossing presents a captivating array of artwork, impressing audiences of all ages. (Photos: IMDB)
Critical, magnificent, and moving, The Crossing uses animated painting to tell the epic tale of two children chased through an (almost) imaginary continent.اضافة اعلان

Their names are Kyona and Adriel. But they could also be any number of anonymous brother-sister pairs, unaccompanied minors from the Calais Jungle, or the beaches of Lampedusa the film will be screened at the Royal Film Commission Wednesday.

Their story begins as a tragedy
After a fire rages in their village, 13-year-old Kyona and her 12-year-old brother Adriel escape from the clutches of militiamen who have come to arrest their parents. Driven to the roads of exile, the young heroes will not stop until they find their mother and father. All the while, they are fleeing men imbibed with hatred for “the other”, those whose only crime was being born.

The Crossing, La Traversée in the original French, is an odyssey strewn with pitfalls but enlightened by hopeful encounters.


Multi-award-winning short film director Florence Miailhe shows herself a true artist through the paintings that come to life in The Crossing.

The children’s crossing of a continent is a pivotal journey marking the passage from childhood to adulthood. Throughout their adventures, Kyona and Adriel learn as much about themselves as they do about human nature, crossing paths with singular characters.

There is the handsome Iskender, an ambiguous figure whose survival instinct has been sharpened by conflict. There is Madame, circus director by day and mother by night. Then, there is the mysterious Babayaga, an old lady wounded by life and visited by spirits. Through the personalities of this trio — the black prince, the stepmother, and the witch — director Florence Miailhe weaves in threads from her own migration story, with the help of scriptwriter Marie Desplechin.

A voice from the past
In the film, an elderly Kyona leafs through a book, captivating viewers with the tones of her deep, soft voice. Konya is played by Miailhe herself, and the film carries flavors of both the personal and the universal.

Miailhe pays tribute to her family through this animated feature, as the inspiration for the poignant plotline was drawn from the stories of her Jewish great-grandparents, who were victims of the pogroms in Odessa at the beginning of the last century. Her mother and brother, who lived through the 1940 French Exodus of refugees, also inspired the story.

Miailhe emerged onto the film scene in 2002 with Au Premier Dimanche Matin, a sublime short painted in pastel that tells the story of a village ball, reminiscent of the goings-on in her parents’ village, where she spent her summers as a child.

In 2007, the director teamed up with Marie Desplechin to narrate another, more painful piece of family history, reimagined in the story of two children lost on the paths of exile, a coming-of-age tale of a forced march towards hopeful, more peaceful horizons. The country behind them is never mentioned, nor the era when the action takes place, perhaps intentionally.


The Crossing uses animated painting to tell the epic tale of two children chased through an (almost) imaginary continent.

In this ambiguity, The Crossing masterfully conveys both universality and timelessness. Finding structure in a book of sketches by the heroine, it cycles through reality, dreams, and nightmares, populated by just as many ogres and monsters as kindly fairies. The twists and turns of the plot, as flawlessly orchestrated as the voiceover, keep the suspense building throughout the epic. The medium of animated painting, a choice belying Miailhe’s decorative arts background, presents a captivating array of artwork, impressing audiences of all ages.

The fragile matter of memories
Multi-award-winning short film director (winner of a César in 2002) Miailhe shows herself as a true artist through the paintings that come to life in the film. Her technique involves painting patterns on glass, photographing them, and then directly modifying them on the same surface. This method, unusual to animated cinema, is even less common in feature films. However, it lends itself perfectly to Kyona’s journey through memories, where the moments in time are brushed into life, immediately erased, and then repainted with slight differences, speaking to the fragile, mutable nature of the traces they leave behind.


The Crossing, La Traversée in the original French, is an odyssey strewn with pitfalls, but enlightened by hopeful encounters.

That said, the animation itself never takes precedence over the narration, which is deployed through an elegant staging that harmoniously weds stunning sequences of grace and beauty with harsher, more austere scenes. With Dora Benousilio of Films de l’Arlequin as its lead, this stirring cinematic piece will shine for a long time in the hearts of its spectators.

Awards
The Crossing won the Audience Award for Best International Film at the Amman International Film Festival in its third edition. It has also won at the International Competition for Feature Films at Brussels Animation Film Festival, earning the Grand Prize and Audience Prize at Bucheon International Animation Film Festival, the Jury Special Mention at Annecy International Animated Film Festival, and a Special Mention at Warsaw International Film Festival. The film has participated in the British Film Institute London Film Festival, San Sebastian International Film Festival, and Palm Springs International Film Festival.

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