Animation Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Zero Impunity

Directors – Nicolas Blies, Stéphane Hueber-Blies – 2019 – France, Luxembourg – 95m


From the Annecy 2020 Online Animation Festival

Framed by live action sequences of serial expert, journalist and activist talking heads projected on the sides of urban buildings or rural landmarks, this skilfully uses minimal 2D animation to tell the stories of victims of sexual violence in contemporary war zones. It’s intended as part of a wider, ongoing media project designed to bring accountability to the perpetrators of such acts who at the present time face zero impunity.

Stories include, from Syria, the 11 year old daughter of an alleged terrorist who was imprisoned for 45 days towards the end of which she was unexpectedly injected with hormones before being raped by (at least) one man before passing out.

A Ukranian woman is held captive in a house and coerced into sleeping with her captor. In bed, she feels something cold and metal in her crotch. It’s a bullet. Much is made of her captor’s pistol. He puts it on a table in front of her, knowing she won’t take it because, if she were to shot him, where would she go?

The US doesn’t come off well. Dick Cheney and the Bush administration know the difference between right and wrong but facilitated sexual humiliation techniques on male prisoners held in prisons such as Abu Ghraib in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay at home. Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell could have spoken up and stopped this policy dead but they kept silent. Obama could have later apologised for this US policy but preferred instead to “look forward”.

Owing to the US not having ratified certain treaties, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has no jurisdiction over US citizens.

Meanwhile in the Congo, UN peacekeeping soldiers take advantage of local girls and women through prostitution.

For the finale, a muslim woman walks through the UN building in New York to find it populated by men wearing strange, arcane, red masks. She accesses the podium of a conference hall as if to speak, but when she opens her mouth, what comes out is somewhere between a sung drone noise and a scream.

This film is clearly intended as agitprop, but it’s well put together and uses animation effectively to convey survivor testimony. You’ll likely come out knowing far more about the issues than you did going in. Well, that’s what happened to me when I watched it.

Zero Impunity plays in the Annecy Animation Festival which is taking place in a special online edition this year right now. (It previously played Annecy 2019.) Here’s the trailer:



Annecy Animation Festival special online edition:

Monday, June 15th to Tuesday, June 30th.

Festival trailer:

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