Animation film ‘Where is Anne Frank’ debuts at Cannes Film Festival

The Diary of Anne Frank was adapted into an Oscar-winning film a decade after the book was published in 1947. Nearly 75 years later, the story has been re-made for the screen, this time as an animation film that has made a massive impact since debuting at the Cannes Film Festival 2021.

This time the story focuses on Kitty, Anne Frank’s imaginary friend and alter ego to whom the girl devoted her diary. Set in present-day Amsterdam and across Europe, Kitty sets out to find Anne Frank by reflecting back on the contents of the diary. But, the film is also a romance, an adventure, the story of a witty teenager who loves life, who looks up to her sister Margot and is often in conflict with her mother.

After making one of the most successful adult animated films of all time, Waltz With Bashir, Israeli director Ari Folman vowed never to tackle the mind-bending complexity of such projects again. But, when he got the chance to bring the iconic story of Anne Frank to the big screen for children, he couldn’t resist; even though it ended up taking about eight years of his life. Where is Anne Frank is a beautifully drawn cartoon film and is aimed at younger audiences, a first for Folman.

The film’s director Lena Grubman said that the use of animation was to make the film “more accessible” to a generation of young teenagers who have grown up with the internet and who are perhaps less likely to read Frank’s book. The first film will tell the story of Anne Frank entirely in drawings. The production employs a vivid animation style to draw the viewer into the story and utilized 159,000 individual drawings created in 15 countries.

“(Anne) became part of my life in a way that I can’t even explain,” said Folman. “My youngest daughter was here at the screening, she’s 14. She told me she can’t remember life without Anne Frank. She was six when I started. Anne’s an icon but more than that, she was a teenager — isolated, going through adolescence, funny, wicked as hell, a great observer of the adults, seeing everyone’s faults, attacking them. She was great fun. I thought we should see all aspects of her character,” said Folman.

Folman came to Cannes with 50 other people who worked with him on his film, a crew that included dozens of animators from four continents, and at the end of the screening, their eight years of painstaking work was rewarded with thunderous applause. Where is Anne Frank also received excellent reviews in the international press.