Posted on November 3, 2022
A disoriented teenage girl lies on Anne Frank’s bed as people invade the family home. But these people are not Nazis; they are modern-day tourists. And the girl on the bed is not Anne, but Kitty, the imaginary friend to whom she addressed her now world-famous diary.
Magically resurrected from the page and transported to modern Europe, Kitty is appalled at how society has fetishized her best friend Anne, peddling cheap wares and endless inaccurate reinterpretations of her lyrics. Eventually, she takes it upon herself to reclaim Anne’s inheritance, by any means necessary.
This is the bold reimagining of the Anne Frank story found in the new animated film “Where is Anne Frank”, which will be included in the 2022 St. Louis International Film Festival. The 2021 film was directed by acclaimed Israeli director Ari Folman, best known for his 2008 Oscar-nominated animated documentary hybrid “Waltz with Bashir”, on the lasting memories of Israel’s first Lebanon war. Now Folman has tackled what many consider to be the sacred text of the Holocaust – rewriting Anne Frank in order to interpret her true lasting legacy.
Made in partnership with the Anne Frank Fund, the Swiss nonprofit founded by Anne’s father, Otto, who owns the copyright to his diary, the film is aimed at a younger audience. But it also enters surprising political territory, as Kitty comes to understand Europe’s modern immigration crisis and begins to consciously associate the continent’s millions of asylum seekers with Anne’s story.
“The main objective of the film is to help young audiences today connect with the story of Anne Frank in the same way that previous generations connected with the diary,” said Yves Kugelmann, member of the Fund’s board of directors and key producer of the film, at the Jewish Telegraphic. Agency. “Honestly, that’s mostly how I see the film. If this objective is achieved, then it is a success.
A feisty redhead with pink cheekbones, Kitty isn’t just a silent observer — she speaks out loud about her best friend’s rampant commercialization as a brand.
‘Anne didn’t write this diary so that you could worship her,’ she told Dutch police in a climactic scene, following an incident in which she heckled a staged from Journal. “Or give his name to bridges, schools, theaters and stations.”
Kitty also begins dating a boy who pickpockets tourists from the Anne Frank House and later becomes a pro-immigration activist.
As he did with “Bashir”, Folman mixes dramatic fantasy sequences with factual narrative. Kitty’s journey through Amsterdam in 2021 and a meticulously detailed Anne Frank House are paired with allusions to Greek mythology and the Roman Empire, both of which fascinated Anne. In flashbacks, the Nazis are depicted as robot-like ghouls wearing death masks, patrolling the streets of Amsterdam with no hatred or pity for the people they hunt and victimize – a reference to how Anne she herself never encountered a Nazi before her capture and wrote about how she had difficulty visualizing them.
“I actually didn’t want to do it at all,” Folman said. “I thought there were too many adaptations and she was too iconic. But I read the diary again, the first time since I was a teenager, and also went to visit my mother – both of my parents were Holocaust survivors. She said, ‘Look, we never interfered with your choices, but if you don’t go along with this project, I’m going to die over the weekend, you can come get my body on Sunday. But if you do, I’ll stay until the premiere.'”
Another twist Folman learned while doing research for the project: his parents arrived at Auschwitz the same week as Anne’s parents, Otto and Edith.
Although Kitty continually denounces the endless modern reinterpretations of Anne’s story that exist to elevate her status as a symbol rather than a person, one could argue that the film she appears in is another such effort, eager to draw simplistic parallels between the Holocaust and the modern refugee crisis.
The film also differs from the text in other respects: although Anne’s diary contains a good dose of humour, the film features at least one distressed character in every scene, whether in present-day Amsterdam or during the Holocaust. “Where’s Anne Frank” also alleges, without proof, that Augustus van Pels, who also went into hiding with the Franks, hid an expensive vase in the house, possibly to avoid having to sell it for himself. to feed.
But Folman’s vision for the film was never to simply relay the facts of history.
“I was looking for a new dimension, a new way to tell the story,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “And I tried to figure out how to bring it to the youngest audience possible. And when you start a movie with a miracle, like with this creation of Kitty, you build the fairy tale.
In addition to the film, Folman has also collaborated with the Anne Frank Fund on a graphic novel adaptation of Anne’s diaryillustrated by David Polonsky and published in 2017. The film and book will be part of a new educational package that the Fund will share with hundreds of schools around the world to which it provides Holocaust education programs and materials.
In keeping with the charter of the non-profit organization and Otto Frank’s wishes that none of the Fund’s projects be commercial, all proceeds from the film will be used to support the work of the Fund, which includes many programs and projects education with UNICEF, the United Nations child welfare agency, Kugelmann said.
In Kitty, the project hopes to have found its new ambassador in a younger generation – straight from the 80-year-old pages of Anne’s diary.
“Where’s Anne Frank”
As part of the Saint-Louis International Film Festival
When: 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 12
Where: University of Washington Brown Hall Auditorium
How much: Free