Home again | Movie threat

The Canadian animated short documentary, Home again, is a well-made family-friendly film that speaks to the heart of what community is about in times of tragedy and danger. The anthropomorphic nature of this film, with its star-studded Canadian actors and actresses, holds your attention to provide insight and education about resilience to what was an enormous crisis. In the history of Canadian wildfire evacuations, the Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo wildfire forced 80,000 residents from their homes in 2016. Many lost everything they had and the community had to rebuild.

Home again is a reminder that the power of film, storytelling and a creative vision can provide meaning and purpose. Home again‘s writer and director Michael Mankowski created a news story as an animated film. He based the subjects on the forest creatures living in the Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo Forest who were displaced and rebuilt their forest homes and lives. Through the eyes of many animals, from buffalo and turtles to ducks, rabbits, bears and owls, Mankowski’s version of this life-changing natural disaster takes on another platform of understanding and sensitivity, different from the human one.

At the animal level, wildfire is referred to as “The Beast”. And as everyone recovers from adversity, they also empathize with those unable to survive, mixing solemn voices and sentiments with those moving forward and rebuilding. There isn’t a lost animated design that reveals the fire, those who fight it, those displaced and the results – the animation covers it all with an excellent layer of sound effects to match. Every element of a wildfire tragedy familiar to many in the western United States is found in Home again, only it is easier to handle from an animal perspective.

“…the wildfire in Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo forced 80,000 residents from their homes in 2016.”

The guest list of Canadian star voices matched with woodland creatures included Jeremy Renner, Martin Short, Kim Basinger, Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Michael J. Fox, Howie Mandel, Ed Asner, Lorne Cardinal, Gordon Pinsent, Mena Suvari, Bill Burr, Tom Green , Norm Macdonald, Harland Williams, Sherri Shepherd, Marlon Wayans, Scott Thompson and Tantoo Cardinal.

With the talent of animation director Mark Dippé, and composers and songwriter Walter Afanasieff, who wrote Home again score, the short has a good amount of polish. In addition, Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, also appears as a forest creature. Whether it’s Bill Burr as a hedgehog or Harland Williams as a fish in a bowl to be carried around, the comedy draws you in, especially from Grandpaws, an old cat voiced by Norm Macdonald. But the big, earnest voice of Ed Asner, a lion playing a TV news anchor, is just as shocking as a human saying the cause of the fire was most likely human, “go figure.”

For those who need healing or need to explain a tragedy that is impossible to understand, Home again can soften the blow of reality, especially since the film ends with clips and images of the actual people in Fort McMurray rebuilding and living back in their homes.

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