Increasingly in animation circles, artists refuse to adhere to traditional structure. The power that animation has always offered its artists is unbridled creativity. In the case of A Cow in the Sky from directors C. Fraser Press and Darren Press, archival footage blends with prose. The true story behind a hate crime in Portland is both a warning and a beautiful showcase that hate does not stop progress.
Told from the perspective of a young Ethiopian boy, A Cow in the Sky relays the story of his father’s Murder. After being incited by the White Aryan Resistance, a man murdered Mulugeta Seraw. The man had moved to America to open doors for his family and was at the wrong place at the wrong time. His murder and subsequent trial are juxtaposed with the boy growing up to become a pilot.
The animation throughout A Cow in the Sky adds a soft touch to the short. It consistently adds an element of hope, even in the darkest moments. The color choices pop off the screen, drawing the audience into the story. Combining this animation with the stark, awful truth about the White Aryan Resistance and its leader Tom Metzger provides a way forward. Some will undeniably harm when given the opportunity. However, there is hope beyond these moments.
The Press family’s choice to use court transcripts, interviews, and the 911 call brings reality into the film. They utilize each piece effectively, but a letter from a son to a father packs the emotional punch. Aminé provides the vocals for the story and does an incredible job at adding pathos to the role. A child of Ethiopian immigrant parents, who raised him in Portland, Aminé’s connections to the material are clear. With his help, the Press’ build an emotionally resonant film, both through the visuals and auditory experience. A Cow in the Sky is one of the most important films of Tribeca 2023. This is special and deserves a larger platform in the months ahead.