I’ll be honest: the online panels at Annecy for Thursday left something to be desired. As a whole, the virtual element of this festival hasn’t been the best. So instead of recapping any of the panels, I have a review for you today! During the festival, I watched an animated film by Czech director Michaela Pavlatova called My Sunny Maad. If you get a chance to check out this unique film, I recommend it.
My Sunny Maad tells the story of a Czech woman named Helena who marries an Afghani man and moves to post-Taliban Kabul to start their life together. As one might expect, the culture shock is high (both good and bad). Helena is forced to change her name to Herra and be a subordinate to her husband especially in public. However, she also gets a kind, welcoming family (for the most part) and seems happy in her day-to-day life.
The best part of this film is the animation. I loved the 2D style and the way Pavlatova uses light and color to express tone. It also covers a large swath of time and isn’t afraid to have complex, layered characters. It would have been easy to portray Herra’s husband as a total brute, but he actually has some lovely, tender moments even if he can’t completely escape his upbringing and traditional ways. All the characters are like that, and you feel like you know this family intimately by the end of the film.
That said, there are times I wish My Sunny Maad had been less observational and taken more of a moral stand. Herra can be frustratingly weak and submissive while at the same time pretending to be modern and rebellious. That dynamic is both interesting and frustrating. We also see this dynamic in the way the title character Maad is treated. He is an orphan that is adopted by Herra and Nazir, and he is treated badly by almost everyone. It would have been nice to have seen a more triumphant arc for that character, but he’s just kind of there and perpetually sad all the time. It might be realistic, but sometimes we as film-goers long for a little more drama in our narratives.
If you get a chance to see My Sunny Maad, I recommend it. Like I said, the animation alone is enough to see it, but the story is unique, and the characters are well done. It’s an animated experience like you’ve never had before. There is not a US release yet, but keep your eyes out for it as it’s definitely worth a look.
What do you think about My Sunny Maad? Does it intrigue you? Let us know in the comments section.
Edited by: Kelly Conley