TITO AND THE BIRDS is an animated film eight years in the making from filmmakers Gustavo Steinberg (End of the Line), Gabriel Bitar (Cidade Cinza), and André Catoto (Say I Am Only Seventeen). Using a variety of animation techniques (oil painting, digital drawings, and graphic animation), what unfolds is an impressive piece that will pull in both young and old audiences with the film’s visuals and socially relevant storyline.
TITO AND THE BIRDS is about a shy 10-year old boy named Tito who lives with his constantly fearful mother after an accident forced his dad from their lives. An unusual epidemic suddenly starts sweeping across the country, impacting strangers and people whom Tito holds dear to his heart. The trigger for this mysterious disease seems to be fear. And, with a culture of fear promoted within the country, it’s not long before everyone is impacted in some way. Tito discovers that his father’s research may be the key to unlocking the mystery behind the cure for the epidemic and sets out to find the cure. However, the journey to finding the cure becomes something much more as he learns he’ll need to find his father in the process and conquer the fear in himself.
An animated film’s voice cast can make or break a film, especially one that primarily features children as the leading characters. However, this was not a problem for TITO AND THE BIRDS. The voice cast consisting of Matheus Nachtergaele, Denise Fraga, Mateus Solano, Otávio Augusto, and Pedro Henrique injected so much heart and soul into their performances that it was hard to not immediately connect with Tito and his friends while they sought out a cure for the mysterious epidemic. Given the stakes in this film, a quality cast was needed in order to hook the audience in. And the filmmakers did an excellent job in their casting.
Now, you may be wondering why we here at Nightmarish Conjurings are tackling this film. It all comes down to one reason – fear. At the core of TITO AND THE BIRDS, the film tackles fear and how debilitating fear can be once it takes hold. We see this throughout the film as we watch people quickly transforming, literally becoming smaller and frozen in place as their fear grows out of control. However, a more relevant point that the film makes concerning fear is how we as a society live in a culture that seeks to stoke fear. There is alarmism everywhere Tito turns and the ones who are stoking the fear in the populace are those who hold the most influence and power within society.
With a run time of 73 minutes, TITO AND THE BIRDS packs a heavy punch. The storytelling is as such that the audience is immediately taken on this wild ride, following Tito on his journey as he frantically tries to make sense with the world around him and complete his father’s work. While the filmmakers were able to convey a lot in a short period of time, I do think that at times their messages surrounding fear were delivered in a heavy handed fashion. This isn’t a complete detriment since the bulk of the story focuses on fear. But there were moments where I felt that a little less conveying of the message would have helped to keep me feeling like I was having a lesson drilled into my mind.
Overall, the team behind TITO AND THE BIRDS has created a visually transformative film that will appeal to both young and old alike. Many will be drawn in by the fusion of animation techniques utilized in the film much like I was as well as the powerful story that plays itself out on screen. I do advise caution to parents if they choose to take their children to this film. I would not recommend it for kids younger than 8 or 9 years old. TITO AND THE BIRDS flies into select theaters on February 1, 2019.
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