Based on Mordecai Richler’s short story "The Summer My Grandmother was Supposed to Die" (from his 1969 collection entitled The Street), Caroline Leaf’s award-winning film represented a major development in the application of animation to storytelling. Set in the St. Urbain district of Richler’s youth, The Street is a marvellously visual, stream-of-consciousness story told from the point of view of a nine-year-old boy about the summer his grandmother died.
A poignant interpretation of Richler’s story, the film spares no feelings and minces no words, making what is sometimes an embarrassingly frank statement about how some families respond to their old and infirm members. Leaf’s fluid, transformational technique – soft simple washes of watercolour and ink, evocatively drawn on glass plates – lends the film a striking three-dimensional quality. Interpreting the reactions to a dying grandmother, The Street captures family feelings and distills them into harsh reality.
The film won numerous audience and critics’ awards at festivals around the world. It also received two Canadian Film Awards (Best Animated Film and the Wendy Michener Award) and an Academy Award® nomination for Animated Short Film.