The children in the playground are laughing and happy, running around, swinging and climbing. Ian wants to be with them but when he tries, things keep going wrong. He spills his drink. He falls, inciting laughter. He gets carried away by a gust of wind, disintegrating into tiny fragments as he passes through the wire fence before reassembling in his wheelchair.

Everybody is made of tiny fragments in this charming Argentinian animated short. Everybody is capable of disintegrating but it’s Ian whom it happens to most often, despite the ferocious effort he makes to resist, to hold on. But Ian is stubborn. When a green-eyed girl refuses to side with the bullies and shows an interest in being his friend, he becomes determined to find a way of fitting in, no matter how hard it is.

Ian is based on a real boy with cerebral palsy who was targeted by bullies when trying to play. He is shown briefly in clips over the closing credits, the only live action part of the film. The animation here is bright and warm and perfectly suited to its subject. It also allows for an extensive range of expressions. There is no dialogue and we follow Ian’s emotional journey largely by watching his face.

The restrained approach taken to the bullying serves as a reminder that for lonely children laughter can hurt as much as a beating, even if there’s no real malicious intent. Indeed, the careless character of it further reduces Ian’s status as a person when what he wants most is for the other children to take an interest in him the way they do in one another. The film also also effectively captures his frustration with the limitations of his own body – and all in a way that’s accessible for young viewers.

Focused on character in a way that’s all too rare in films about disability, this is a treat. It has been getting serious festival attention and won an award at the LA Shorts International Film Festival. Catch it if you can.

Reviewed on: 03 Oct 2018

 

Click here to read the complete review at Eye For Film.