REVVING UP ENGINES FOR YOU: “ANINA”

Enrique Castro Ríos

Anina, Uruguay-Colombia 2013, by Alfredo Soderguit
Federico Ivanier adaptation of the children’s novel Anina Yatay Salas
by Uruguayan writer and illustrator Sergio López Suárez

Exhibited on Sunday, 9 February 2020 at 7:00 p.m.
at the Mirador del Pacífico of the Cinta Costera I

 

Anina’s trailer at the PLATINO Xcaret Awards YouTube channel

Anina tells the story of Anina, a ten-year-old girl who receives “the most bizarre punishment in the history of bizarre punishments.”

But before I take off writing, I quote two definitions by the DLE or Spanish language dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy or RAE (crudely translated by yours truly) which I consider important to enjoy Anina, an intelligent and lucid animation for children (alas! may I make it clear that I am neither a purist nor a royalist: au contraire, as dear William says, “Off with their heads!”):

palindrome
From the Greek παλίνδρομος palíndromos ‘which runs backwards’.

1. m. Word or phrase whose letters are arranged in such a way that it is the same read from left to right as from right to left; e.g., anilina; dábale arroz a la zorra el abad.

capicúa
From the Cat. capicua, and this from cap i cua ‘head and tail’.
1
. m. Number that is the same read from left to right as from right to left; e.g., 1331. Also used as an adjective.
2. m. Ticket, coupon, etc., whose number is capicúa. Also used as an adjective.
3. m. In the game of domino, a way to win with a chip that can be placed at either end.

And Cat. in the etymological bar of capicúa refers to català, or Catalan.

Now, let’s take off:

In Panama we should have our own word for “palindrome”, something like “ayayaya”, given that our complicated and contradictory separation from Colombia, and the role played by some Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt in it, are the origin of one of the most famous —or infamous, rather— palindromes of the English language:

>> A MAN A PLAN A CANAL PANAMA >>

<< AMANAP LANAC A NALP A NAM A <<

Not to mention the fact that, pre- or post-canal, we are the quintessential Palindromic Nation, primal Möbius Nation par excellence, with flora, fauna and people in an eternal idivení through our lands, waters and airs. Idivení being Panama’s Azuero region’s pronunciation of “come and go”, which sounds suspiciously capicúa without being so.

And this apparent non sequitur to Anina, an ingenious dramatic-fantastic comedy of a girl with trebble palindromic-capicúa surnames and given name, Anina Yatay Salas, product of an excessively cerebral father (and oh no!, to make things worse, one who treats his daughter of ten as a thinking being), brings up another issue within this beautiful film: how two people, or two nations, can fall into conflict over their discordant readings of the same event.

In the case of the USA and Panama, well, I’ll call foul and bullying ad nauseam (and co-dependent self-bullying to boot, because we Panamanians adore our US tormentor). But Anina the film shows us how the conflict between Anina and Yisel, which could initially be misunderstood as bullying, is more a misunderstanding due to their lack of communication with one another and their ignorance of each other’s reality. The film follows Anina’s reflections as a result of her schoolyard fight with Yisel and subsequent bizarre punishment, the main thread of the film, which leads her to question her own perceptions and intentions towards those surrounding her.

Beautifully animated with an aesthetic style all of its own, Anina introduces and plays with other animation styles in specific scenes, even including “real” footage reflected in the rear-view mirror of a moving bus. This shrewd attention to detail as well as to movement —the motion and wobble of buses, for example, is sublime— makes its visuals as intelligent as its dialogues and dramatic turns. The façades of buildings, the textures of objects and people are exceedingly successful and play with a world that oscillates between two- and three-dimensions and flirts with both realism and fantasy. Anina is a beautiful piece, and if you want to grow and reflect as you enjoy a film and want your children to do so as well, bring them on this fascinating voyage through a capicúa Montevideo and a week gone bonkers in the animated life of Anina.

 

Enrique Castro Ríos
[email protected]