Recalling the work of Marjane Satrapi and Ari Folman, Anja Kofmel recreates the strange life and death of her war reporter cousin in a bold, moody hybrid of docu-portrait and animation.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2019
Croatia, 1992. The body of a young Swiss journalist is found strangled in a field. His name was Chris. Who was responsible for his death? What drew him miles away from his homeland to cover the grisly Yugoslav wars? And why was he wearing the uniform of a mysterious unit of mercenary soldiers? These questions have troubled documentary filmmaker Anja Kofmel for decades, and understandably so: Chris was her cousin.
Kofmel’s unconventional portrait doc is a haunted deep-dive into the murky ambiguity surrounding his death – part mournful biopic, part investigative thriller, part gothic fantasy. Blending archival footage, talking heads and her own gorgeous monochrome animation, Kofmel embraces the mystery of her cousin’s story with an expressionistic visual approach, fantastical flourishes standing in for both the facts she cannot know and the horrors she cannot fathom. A genuinely striking work. — JF
“A compelling and artistic hybrid of memoir, biographical documentary and general discussion of why young men feel their pulses quicken at the idea of fighting in a foreign war… It’s a multicolored wreath of roses to lay against her cousin’s legacy, thorns and all.” — Jessica Kiang, Variety