Hot Docs 2011: Little Voices

This summer, when blockbusters like Pirates of the Carribean and Cars 2 open in Colombia, they'll be shown with a trailer for Little Voices. That might not seem strange given that it's a 3D animated kids film, but it's not every 3D animated kids film that recounts the horrors of the Colombian war as told by some of its youngest victims.

The project started six years ago, when the filmmakers interviewed displaced children in Bogota — some of the one million child victims of the conflict — about their experiences, and had them draw pictures of what they'd seen. A few were then chosen for the movie, their recordings used for the narration and their drawings turned into 3D animation. 

The result is like being immersed in the most horrifying picture book you've ever seen. Little Voices stays away from blood and gore (so that kids can safety go to see it, one of the directors of the film explained in the Q&A after the screening), but it's still a deeply upsetting movie. One by one the children's peaceful lives are shattered by violence. Crayon-drawn guerrillas kick families out of their homes. They lure one boy away to join a rebel training camp. Another loses his arm when a bomb explodes nearby.

But in the end, the film is actually unexpectedly hopeful. The children are incredibly resilient; they find ways to stay positive despite all of the horrors they've been forced to endure. "I guess you have to carry on," the boy who lost his arm explains as he wakes to discover he's lost a leg as well, "to overcome any obstacles that come up. And keep going!"

It's safe to say, Little Voices is a uniquely powerful experience.


Photo: Still from Little Voices

You'll find all of our Hot Docs coverage here.

Posted by Adam Bunch, the Editor-in-Chief of the Little Red Umbrella and the creator of the Toronto Dreams Project. You can read his posts here, follow him on Twitter here, or email him at


Post a Comment