All of Our Shadows [Ruth Beni/Daniel Greaves, UK, 2020]

Ruth Beni and Daniel Greaves’ All of Our Shadows is a sensitive and compassionate look at the fears and anxieties of a schoolboy in central London. The animation, lush and richly textured, creates a comfortable and almost childlike atmosphere, which contrasts powerfully with the serious tone of the film’s narrative. The intrusion of anxiety and fear into such a visually comfortable space creates a deep atmosphere of sadness, lending the film an emotional resonance that goes beyond its aesthetics or narrative alone.

The film details a day in the life of a young boy plagued by anxiety, terrified of the knife crime and gang violence that seems to pervade his and his schoolmates’ lives. The fear, represented by an ominous dark cloud that follows the boy, renders him quiet and introverted. At school he is withdrawn, unable to concentrate and hounded by the ever-looming cloud of fear. However, a classmate reaches out to our protagonist, offering him comfort and revealing that they, too, suffer from stress and anxiety. Eventually, many of his classmates come forward and share their experiences with anxiety, and the boy is soothed by the notion that he is no longer alone.