Monday, July 08, 2013

Latinbeat ’13: AninA

It seems like everybody picks on Anina Yatay Salas.  She’s a kid, you see.  She’s a good kid though, who will be getting the sort of lessons that will make her a good grown-up in Alfredo Soderguit’s animated feature, AninA (trailer here), which screens this weekend during the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s 2013 Latinbeat.

The Spanish work for palindrome is capicúa, a fact young Anina knows only too well.  She has three of them in her name, which she finds rather excessive.  Her Ned Flanders-ish father thought it was delightful, but the bratty kids at school delight in taunting her with the word “capicúa.”  Still, she has good friends, like Florencia, but certainly not Yisel.  During one fateful recess, an innocent stumble leads to a playground dust-up and a mutual trip to the principal’s office.  As punishment, both she and Yisel receive mysterious sealed envelopes only to be opened in the principal’s presence, the following week.

Obsessing over her scarlet envelope, Anina and Florencia start following Yisel, in hopes of sneaking a peek inside hers.  However, to her considerable surprise, Anina starts sharing strange bonding moments with her nemesis at school, stemming from their gossip-spawning punishment.

AninA is a wonderfully innocent and endearing film with absolutely no objectionable material whatsoever.  Adults will probably have a good idea where it is headed, but they will approve every step of the way.  Adapting Sergio López Suárez’s book for young readers (which he illustrated), Soderguit maintains a similarly gentle style.  His simple figures are rather soothing, evoking nostalgia for the old fashioned children’s books of eras gone by.

There are thoughtful bits of adolescent experience throughout AninA, but it is the title character (sensitively voiced by Federica Lacaño) that makes it such a winner.  Boys of a certain age and immaturity level might grow restless during the film, but girls and adults of all varieties will find it completely charming.  Recommended with enthusiasm, AninA screens this coming Saturday (7/13) and Sunday (7/14) afternoons at the Beale Theatre, as part of Latinbeat ’13.