No Dogs or Italians Allowed (2023)

No Dogs or Italians Allowed (2023)

Alain Ughetto remembers his family history in this charming, yet poignant animated drama

The Very Best

9.2

Movie

Belgium, France
French, German, Italian
Animation, Drama
2023
ALAIN UGHETTO
Alain Ughetto, Ariane Ascaride, Bruno Fontaine
70 min

TLDR

“We are not from a country, we are from our childhood,” oh my god, this LINE.

What it's about

Northern Italy, 1900s. The Ughetto family dreams of a better life amidst war, famine, and disease. One of them, Luigi Ughetto, decides to cross the Alps to start a new life in France, changing the destiny of his family forever.

The take

With cardboard houses, sugar winters, and broccoli trees, No Dogs or Italians Allowed at first seems lighthearted, playful, and not too serious. Alain Ughetto casts himself asking his grandmother Cesira about his family, but we only see his hands moving and interacting with the characters as if he was crafting clay model miniatures. However, the whimsical approach sugarcoats the very tragedies that struck his family– from the multiple wars to the discrimination they’ve faced as immigrants– with excellent animation and puppetry that feels much more lifelike than 3D CGI. In telling his family’s story, Ughetto also retells 20th century European history, reframing the worldwide events and movements through a personal perspective.

What stands out

The camera captures the animator directly interacting with the clay characters– with his hands forming his grandma’s clothes, and directly following her instructions, and even packing up some clay cows in boxes. It’s certainly unique, but this move always makes it clear that it’s a family recollecting their history.

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