Je Suis un Crayon (D’Arcy, 2015): Australia, Denmark, France

Reviewed by Phill Hunziker, as part of the Animated Shorts program at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2016.

The Animated Shorts program of the SBIFF 2016 was stock full of great films; each film was enlightening and visually stunning in their own unique way. Je Suis un Crayon stood out amongst them thanks to its powerful message, wonderful hand-drawn animation and the immense amount of work and dedication put in by the filmmakers.

The film tells a universal story of freedom, guided by poetic spoken-word and abstract visuals that are layered with diverse meaning that people of all backgrounds can relate to and be inspired by. From heartbreak to inspiration to peaceful revolution, the journey is all-inclusive and awe-inspiring.

In a post-screening meeting with the director, Joe D’Arcy, he spoke of the inspiration he felt after witnessing Paris’ and the world’s response to the acts of terror that plagued the city. The marching in the streets and the overall celebration of freedom of expression and speech moved him. He felt compelled to make this film, regardless of time constraints due to other projects. The D’Arcy family of artists is a force to be reckoned with. Each has a specific talent that blends so well with the others, resulting in a visually stimulating and intellectually enlightening experience. Their combined efforts put out extraordinary pieces of work, such as this, that hold messages the world desperately needs right now.

As the film suggests, we are all pencils; instruments of expression. Our hands, hearts, mouths and brains are our tools; we can use them to free ourselves and change the world. Freedom of expression is what we are owed because, in many regards, it’s all we really have.

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