Window Horses director Ann Marie Fleming explores Persian culture with star-studded help

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      Featuring the voice of Sandra Oh. In English, Farsi, Mandarin, and German with English subtitles. Rated G

      In a world increasingly driven by fear and misunderstanding, Window Horses comes as a breath of animated fresh air.

      For the breezy, 85-minute film, Vancouver multimedia veteran Ann Marie Fleming joins forces with a dazzling array of guest cartoonists (15 artists from all over, including Sadaf Amini, Bahram Jahaveri, and Janet Perlman) for a delightful tour of Persian culture, allowing for some of its built-in contradictions.

      These artists work well with her stellar jam session of vocal talents, starting with Sandra Oh as Rosie Ming, a Chinese-Persian Canadian who confronts family history when invited to a poetry festival in Iran.

      Ellen Page and The World of Suzie Wong’s Nancy Kwan are among friends and family; when Rosie gets to Shiraz, the voices include Iranian film greats Peyman Moaadi (the male lead in A Separation) and Oscar-nominated Shohreh Aghdashloo (for House of Sand and Fog), as well as Don McKellar as an unctuous but ultimately sympathetic German traveller.

      The youth-aimed movie leans a little too much on sentimentality and coincidence, especially concerning Rosie’s seeming abandonment by her Iranian father. Rosie herself is thinly drawn—literally, as a stick figure lacking the richly textured dimensionality of the other characters. She shows up in a black chador when the other women wear comfortable and colourful hijabs, and her dogged naiveté helps propel the story even if it limits her likability.

      Still, the film’s beautiful interludes of music and poetry suggest more deeply shaded complexity, and this Window will definitely help open some doors.

      Watch the trailer for Window Horses.