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Tribeca Film Festival excited the city of New York again this year. There is a conspicuous film that should be mentioned at the ninth annual film festival. That is a Swedish animated film, “Metropia.”
 
Swedish film director Tarik Saleh directed the film. Even though his father was a “claymation” animator, Mr. Saleh pursued documentary film making and received great reputation from “Sacrificio: Who betrayed Che Guevara?” and “Gitmo: The New Rules of War.” “Metropia” is his first feature animation film.
 
In 2024 when oil has run out, a huge network of subways operated by a large corporation connects all the European cities. Because every time Roger, the protagonist who lives in Stockholm, goes into the subway, he hears voices in his head and becomes uncomfortable, he stops taking the train. However, one day, when he unexpectedly enters the subway again, he sees a mysterious model, Nina. And he begins to discover that someone or something is controlling him…
 
“Because the earth ran out of oil, fear dominates the world.” Mr. Saleh says he arrived at the idea while filming “Gitmo” which takes place at Guantanamo Bay detention camp. Beginning with the terrorist attacks of 9/11, dark clouds blanketed the world, and people’s hearts were filled with anxiety and fear. Mr. Saleh reflected his feelings that he experienced at the scandalous Guantanamo into “Metropia.”
 
“Metropia” explores the universal theme that ‘fear’ controls people with the deployment of standard storytelling. The charm of this film is that it grows on you, swelling gradually over time rather than immediately after watching. Remembering this film, many people may become paranoid that we are caught in some giant corporate conspiracy.
 
Currently 3D movies are mainstream; however, this film was made in 2D as if fighting against the trend, and the unique visuals draw attention. The characters are fairly realistic, crafted in detail, but there is something so unnatural about them that you end up feeling as if you’ve awakened in an illusion. The world created by Mr.Saleh, who was inspired by Terry Gilliam and Roy Andersson, hypnotizes us. And yet the story itself, rather than a fantastic piece of SciFi, is reminiscent of Hitchcock and Film Noir.
 
“Metropia” premiered at last year’s Venice International Film festival. After repeated screenings at various locations in New York, the film was finally unveiled at Tribeca Film Festival this spring. To accompany the screenings, press conferences with the director and cast were held; the colors of the festival became even more brilliant. Vincent Gallo, Juliette Lewis, Stellan Skarsgård, Alexander Skarsgård, and Udo Kier are a rare collection of voice actors for this film. The reason why the unique and talented actors were needed: “Because I needed real voice acting,” Mr.Saleh says.

For this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, many of the festival’s films were available to watch at home on cable TV. “Metropia” is one of the line-up. It is a luxury to enjoy this film at home since it is unlikely the film will have a wide release in U.S. theaters. It is still possible to watch it on TV now, so please enjoy this special film that leaves you with a lingering strange feeling.
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