An animated reimagining of the life of Annah, a 13-year-old Javanese girl brought to France in 1893 to serve as a maid and model to the famous painter Paul Gauguin. 

Indonesia | 2020 | 6 minutes | Color | DVD | Javanese/French | Subtitled |


In 1893, French artist Paul Gaugin painted the controversial portrait of Annah la Javanaise. To some, it represents a foundational example of post-impressionist art, and to others, it offers an undeniable portrait of Western colonialism. In this short, animated film, filmmaker Fatimah Tobing Rony (dir. ON CANNIBALISM) reimagines the life of this 13-year-old Javanese girl who was sold by her family to the famous French painter.  

By reframing the perspective of the painting, the film presents a possible version of this young girl’s experience as a trafficked maid and model from Java. The simple and colorful visuals used to tell this story embody a child’s eye and strike a balance between the subject matter and serious themes of exploitation.  


“ANNAH LA JAVANAISE is the call for us to not let history erase the indigenous perspectives at the wrath of colonialism.” –

Matthew Chan, Encounters Film Festival

“Explores dark themes with a colorful and vibrant realization. It reveals a story of the previous century but shows us prevalent issues such as child slavery, pedophilia, human rights abuse, and racism. In addition, it also brings up important questions of the role of the artist, the notion of privilege and ethical codes of conduct which are a contemporary issue."

Anifilm International Film Festival Jury Statement

"Very hard and perfectly mastered, the short film explores the limits of humanity."


"A really colorful and distinctive look."

Directors Notes

"With her animation, she gives titular character Annah a voice, and brings hope to a lot of women."

Screen Hub

"It’s animation, graphic design, and sound composition are simple and ostensibly enchanted. It’s the first-person narrative of this voiceless young woman and her painful path in life, that not only moves us, but also debunks the mythical image of a famous painter."


"Serves as a tribute to the real girl, endows her with a plausible story, a life about whose real data is barely known."

Animated Film Network


  • Best Short Film, Anifilm International Film Festival of Animation
  • Audience Award, Woods Hole Film Festival
  • Best Short Film, Pixelatl International Film Festival of Animation
  • Best International Film, Devenir Réalisateur Film Festival
  • Best Animated Short Award, LA Femme International Film Festival
  • Best Animated Film Award, Rome International Cinema Festival
  • Best Film Award, Edinburgh Short Film Festival
  • Special Mention Jury Prize, Festival International du Cinéma d\'Auteur de Rabat
  • Best Short Animation Award, Melbourne Short Film Festival
  • Best Animated Short, Annual Aarhus Film Festival
  • Best Animated Film, Honorable Mention, Fargo Film Festival
  • Best Animated Film, Oslo Film Festival, Oslo, Norway
  • Nominee, Best Animated Short, Sydney Short Film Festival
  • Nominee, Best Animated Short, Oakland Short Film Festival
  • Honorary Mention, Fargo Film Festival
  • Nominee, Best Animated Short, Close: Up Rekjavik Film Festival
  • Best Social Justice Film Award, Hollywood Women\'s International Film Festival
  • Annecy International Film Festival of Animation
  • Canal of Panama International Film Festival
  • Flickers Rhode Island International Festival
  • International Children Care Festival
  • Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival
  • Encounters International Festival
  • Indie-Ani Film, Korea Independent Animation Film Festival
  • San Francisco Independent Short Film Festival
  • Devenir Réalisateur Paris Film Festival
  • Olho Animation Film Festival
  • Berlin International Festival of Animation
  • Betweter Festival of Science and Art
  • Sedicicorto Forli International Film Festival
  • Anima International Film Festival
  • LA Femme Film Festival
  • Indie Memphis Film Festival
  • Pro Animation, SCAD Savannah Film Festival
  • Annual Copenhagen Film Festival
  • Edinburgh Short Film Festival
  • Pittsburgh Shorts and Scripts Competition
  • Rome Independent Cinema Festival
  • Interfilm, 37th International Short Film Festival
  • Annual Aarhus Film Festival
  • Manipulate Festival
  • Melbourne Short Film Festival
  • Athens International Film and Video Festival
  • American Documentary and Animation Film Festival
  • Human Rights and Arts Film Festival
  • Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival


Fatimah Tobing Rony

Fatimah Tobing Rony (dir. ON CANNIBALISM) makes films and writes books about people whose stories have not yet been told. CHANTS OF LOTUS [PEREMPUAN PUNYA CERITA] (2008), was distributed and exhibited in major theaters in Indonesia, and in film festivals around the world. Her newest film, ANNAH LA JAVANAISE, was an Official Selection of the 2020 Annecy International Festival for Animated Film and has won fourteen awards across five continents. She received her MFA in Directing from UCLA's School of Film, Theater, and Television, and a Ph.D. in the History of Art from Yale University. (06/22) 



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