Staff Review/ Pequeñas voces (Little Voices)

Cornerhouse Digital Reporter Paul Atkinson reviews Pequeñas voces

Little Voices, by Jairo Carillo, is a beautifully made animated documentary which uses real-life interviews with four children, all affected by the armed conflict in rural Columbia. Apart from contributing their unique first hand accounts the children have also provided sketches used directly and as inspiration for the animation of the project.

Following a brief introduction to each character, the focus moves towards the simplicities of life and exuberance of childhood, prior to the encroaching violence lying dormant in the background of each scene.  Primarily the children talk about the things they loved most before the violence came; their father, their dogs or their friends. Each child recounts several memories of these happy times, increasing the sense of loss, despair and confusion as the violence takes hold of their lives.

The film is split into three acts, separated by jarring moments of tranquility that allow for reflection and prepares us for the inevitable change in direction. One child is taken away to fight for the militia seduced by promises of wealth and power, only to be subjected to inhumane training regimes and the horrors of warfare at close quarters. While another child is displaced when the militia take over her family farm and take away her father.

By blending drawings provided by children, with simple animations inspired by their art, Carillo creates a simple yet beautiful aesthetic. Much of the additional animation possesses the distorted quality of childhood artworks, which sit comfortably alongside the childrens’ actual contributions. The childlike innocence of the animation makes the atrocities of warfare seem all the more corrupting and abhorrent as the documentary shows how violence is imposed upon them by the adult world.

The resilience of the children shines through and the hardships they have survived, instil a sense of hope and infectious enthusiasm for the possibilities the future may bring. While you may shed more than the occasional tear and feel an almost overwhelming sense of frustration regarding the futility of warfare, the naive beauty, innocence and resilience of childhood manages to prevail. The little voices are heard loud and clear as both the style of the animation and the narration of the children will leave you with a sense of hope worthy of your most ambitious childhood dreams.

Pequeñas voces (Little Voices) screens Sun 18 March at 16:00. Book your tickets here.