Yuluu is strikingly simple at first glance, but this downplays the use of animation techniques to present a child’s view of war and violence – in this case, an apt choice. The film feels like a child and adult talking to one another, though through different mediums of communication. The child tells the adult what they see, but they do not understand, and so violence is represented through shapes and colours. The adult attempts to provide context, although still with uncertainty.
Yuluu is diffused with a childlike innocence, directly in contrast with the matter-of-fact voiceover provided by Hind Kammourieh, which adds maturity and depth. During moments of clarity, when a child’s lens cannot be used to filter the sound of gunfire, the bright red/pink/brown colour palette fades to the most basic of tones. Even then, fireworks are used instead of guns. The audience doesn’t actually see a single weapon being fired. While also being shrouded in memory, this accessible animation uses basic lines and shapes to make a big statement.
This use of colourful shapes to display frantic movement is striking and shows that animation is far more accessible than one might think. With just a few squares and asymmetrical blotches, director Fatima Kried effectively portrays anger, grief, and panic.
Music is used superbly to provide cultural and situational context. Though for the first few moments, this could be a film about a happy childhood memory, the music belies this and sets the audience on the edge of their seats. Purely instrumental, the music provides a sense of foreboding and anticipation of things to come. This film feels like a prelude. One must wonder if Yuluu is part of a series, or open-ended for a reason.
Kammourieh’s speech is succinct enough that the subtitles do not overwhelm the animation aspect of the film, thus balancing the two elements well. Kried has done a pitch-perfect job of balancing child and adult, light and dark, music and animation, to create a striking snapshot of a family’s journey and a new beginning.
'Yuluu' was part of the Official Selection at Short Focus Film Festival 2021.