When his grandfather won’t talk about the war, Bastien is left to his imagination.
Souvenir Souvenir tracks the efforts of the French filmmaker Bastien Dubois to learn more about his grandfather’s time as a French soldier in the Algerian War of Independence (1954-62). Sixty years later, that conflict is little-discussed by many of those who fought it, leaving members of younger generations, like Dubois, to speculate about their family’s role in the notoriously brutal war. After Dubois repeatedly fails in his attempts to dig up his grandfather’s past, his film grows to encompass both his family’s story and the greater moral dilemma of second-hand storytelling. Expressing his struggle with the nature of narrative, Dubois juxtaposes two clashing animation styles – one rich and impressionistic, capturing his experience of making the film, and another cartoonish, depicting the disturbing wartime scenarios he’s built in his imagination. An intricately constructed film with a thoughtful artistic voice at its centre, Dubois’s celebrated autobiographical documentary was awarded Best Animated Short Film at the Sundance Film Festival in 2020.