When I started watching the Oscar nominated shorts in theaters, the audience wasn’t too large, but there were always a good number of people attending. For the past 2 years, that number has grown tremendously so to the point where I have reserve seats in advance now to attend! I’m glad the animated shorts are getting the attention they deserve. For those of you who can’t attend a showing at your local theater, Shorts.TV has provided a wide variety of outlets to view them including On Demand and streaming.
Most of this year’s nominated shorts deal with family and the relationships within. Three of this year’s nominated shorts have already been reviewed by me or Ed. You can find the reviews for “Bao” here by Ed, and for “Late Afternoon” and “Weekends” here by me.
“Animal Behaviour” is a Canadian short that’s the exception to the rest of this year’s family-themed nominees. It depicts a bunch of animals in group therapy, somewhat eerily resembling almost any therapy group you might encounter. There’s a praying mantis with dating problems due to her cannibalistic tendencies, a leech who has parasitic relationship problems, a pig with an eating disorder, a bird with sibling problems, and a cat with OCD. They are led by an eager to please dog who tries his very best to encourage the group to share their feelings while addressing the issues, even though it seems like none of them are actually trying to be better. Things are thrown into chaos when an ape with anger management issues joins the group and blasts the pointlessness of the exercise. The 2D line animation resembles that of most adult animated series, and the characters are definitely not cute and cuddly. The short seems to show that group therapy is definitely not for everyone and results may vary.
“One Small Step” is a joint U.S. and Chinese short by Taiko Studios about a girl named Luna and her cobbler single father, who encourages and supports his space-loving daughter through shoes. He first creates a tiny pair of astronaut boots for her to have adventures in space. When she’s off to school learning about math and science, he cobbles sandals and sneakers which he also helps her maintain when they start wearing down. Despite all her hard work, Luna gets rejected from astronaut school, and there doesn’t seem to be anything her father can do to help her further. Luna realizes later that what her father gave her was more than enough to help her pursue her dream. The story is beautifully animated in a 2D/3D hybrid style that’s simple and soft in tone. The message that even the smallest and simplest of things matter is extremely touching. You also can’t help cheering for Luna along the way too.
2 highly commendable shorts were shown along with the 5 Oscar nominated shorts as bonuses.
“Wishing Box” is a 3D CGI U.S. short made in collaboration with several international artists and funded on Indiegogo. It’s about a silly pirate who finds a locked treasure box. When he breaks open the box, there’s nothing inside. However, when his pet monkey reaches inside the empty treasure box, he pulls out a banana! The pirate can’t do the same though, so he tries to manipulate the monkey into pulling out treasure for him by using various drawings of gold and treasure. The monkey obliges, but only pulls out fruit and food that resemble the pirate’s drawings. This is a cute and funny short with nicely rendered 3D characters. Being a foodie myself, I’m with the monkey.
“Tweet-Tweet” is a Russian 3D CGI short about life on a tightrope. It’s tells the tale of a little bird on a tightrope who meets a baby girl, whose feet are the only part we can see. The bird follows her through her life as the girl walks across the tightrope, with the time passing shown by the girl’s shoes. We even see the girl start dating when another pair of feet in men’s shoes steps onto the rope. Later, the tightrope changes to wire and then barbed wire when wartime starts. All along the way, the bird interacts with the girl’s feet, even getting jealous of the man’s feet at first. It’s an interesting parable for life, since we all walk on some sort of tightrope trying to balance ourselves. One doesn’t notice the rope until life goes out of balance. The relationship between the girl and the bird is lovingly sweet, and you hope it doesn’t end.