Runtime: 7 minutes
Director: Maya Sanbar, Faga Melo, Gustavo Leal
Writers: Maya Sanbar, Pedro Paulo de Andrade, Sita Brahmachari, Onjali Q. Rauf
Actors: Mariana Chiuso, Danilo Chen, Lara Boldorini, Caua Martins
By Joan Amenn
“Footsteps on the Wind”(2021) is dedicated to the over forty million children it states have been left to the trauma of homelessness due to war and natural disasters related to climate change over the last decade. While such a staggering number is almost impossible to comprehend, this short animated film puts human faces to the tragedy. It is a little too intense for young children but the brightness of the art direction helps to mitigate the horror it depicts.
Young brother and sister Josef (Caua Martins) and Noor (Lara Boldorini) have loving parents and a comfortable home. Exactly where they live is irrelevant since current events have shown us that catastrophes such as floods, earthquakes and tornadoes can strike anywhere. Often, those who find themselves in harm’s way have very little, if any time to prepare. We see these two children lose everyone and everything but each other in a way that is disturbing but at the same time not maudlin. It is an exceedingly fine line to walk but director Maya Sanbar acknowledges the unthinkable happening in breathtaking swiftness while maintaining a child’s direct point of view.
Sanbar had the incredible opportunity of receiving the musical contribution of Sting, who provided the song that accompanies the film. It is titled, “Inshallah” which means “if God is willing, this it shall come to pass.” Sting has commented that the word “sounded like a prayer that people in this situation may recite.” It is a chilling acknowledgement of the vulnerability of the human beings caught in such horrific situations, with children being the most helpless. To add to the poignancy, the voices over the end credits are actual refugees from O’s Refugee Aid. The tune itself is similar in the haunting lyrics and tone to “Fragile,” which is one of Sting’s most loved songs.
“Footsteps on the Wind” is not completely grim and despairing. There is a glimmer of hope in the smiles and fortitude of Noor and Josef that keep the film from being overwhelmed in loss. Sanbar has a deft understanding of how children think that translates well in the reactions of her young main characters. They are endearing and touching in their devotion to each other. ‘Footsteps on the Wind” is a lovingly crafted, brightly colored hug to all the children who have endured the trauma of finding themselves refugees. May it come to pass that they find security and happiness again so that they may thrive.