It's summertime. A little girl inhales the delightful fragrance of the flowers when suddenly an evil sorcerer appears and steals the sun.

Credit: Radio-Canada, colour, 00:42


Abracadabra is generally recognized as Frédéric Back's first animated film. Co-directed with Graeme Ross, the 9-minute short was produced in Radio-Canada's animation studio as part of the youth programming exchange program with the European Broadcasting Union. Under this agreement, participating countries each produced one children's animation per year. In exchange, they would receive a compilation of the films produced by the other countries, at no extra charge-which worked out to 12 to 14 films for the price of one.

Frédéric Back, Daniel Méry, Graeme Ross and Hubert Tison got together to brainstorm ideas for the film, keeping in mind its extremely young audience. Back wrote the synopsis for Abracadabra based on the ideas generated and submitted a successful proposal. Since the film was destined for international exchange, he felt it important to represent children from different cultures.


Abracadabra is the spell cast by the evil sorcerer who captures and imprisons the sun, leaving the world grey and bereft. A little girl sets out to find the sun, asking people, animals and flowers if they have seen it. But nobody knows where it is. So she heads off on a quest that takes her around the world. On the way, she meets a young Amerindian, a little African girl and a Chinese boy. Searching together, they discover the sorcerer's hideout and set the sun free. Joy returns to the earth as nature resumes its former glory.


If, for the activist filmmaker, the sun represents nature, it also-as the source of light-serves as a metaphor for knowledge. The film warns against those who want to monopolize knowledge for self-serving purposes and thus deprive others of the empowerment knowledge brings.