The 2020 Oscars will get Animated Shortly…
ShortsHD is bringing this year’s batch of Oscar nominated Live Action and Animated Short Films to a global audience. In the United States, check your local Landmark theater to see if either Showcase is now playing. Here’s our rundown of the Animated films, chiming in from all over the globe. This showcase is planned to play along with three bonus animated short films: Henrietta Bulkowski, The Bird and the Whale, Hors Piste.
Contributing reviewers are Erik Yates and Taylor Blake. Get an edge in your Oscar pool, and more importantly, be informed about some solid, if short, cinema that is being celebrated:
Daria Kashcheeva, Czech Republic, 15 min.
Dcera (Daughter) is the animated entry from the Czech Republic that tells the story of the broken relationship between a daughter and a father that has built up over time. The daughter has kept her feelings locked up after the loss of a dead bird years ago, never truly forgiving her father for his lack of empathy at a time she had needed it most. Now as he is lies dying on his bed, the many unspoken moments since the bird died have built up like a dam. Will she break her silence take the opportunity to heal their relationship before it is too late? Dcera (Daughter) largely sticks its landing, though the sum of the film is not greater than its individual moments.
– Erik Yates
Matthew A. Cherry, USA, 7 min.
Hair Love, as you would guess, is a story about hair, but not just about how it shapes style. With bright, bouncy animation, this short tells how hair is part of one family’s big day. As a young daughter preps in the morning (with the help of a delightful, sassy cat), styling her afro becomes more of a challenge than she or her dad expects. While that sounds like a setup for comic hijinks (and, yes, it is), it also shows how beauty practices transcend fashion. Hair carries family legacy and ritual, and this battle—a literal one in a clever imagination sequence—isn’t just about self-presentation, but about self-ownership. The film’s greatest strength is an attention to detail that develops character with barely any dialogue. Our heroine’s tablet stickers and her dad’s tattoos aren’t the focal points, but they tell us more than words would about our characters and about how hair and hair love help us shape our identity.
– Taylor Blake
Rosana Sullivan, USA, 9 min.
Kitbull is an American animated film from Pixar’s “Sparkshorts” program follows the story of a scared kitten who is finding shelter in a junk pile when he meets a pit bull. The kitten tries to play with the pit bull, but their moment is short lived. One night, the pit bull is abused inside his home and is tossed outside bearing the marks of his abuse. As he slowly stands up, he hears the kitten struggling after getting stuck in the rings of a six-pack can holder. The kitten, responds in kindness and forges their unlikely friendship. While Kitbull deals with very serious themes at times, it becomes light-hearted enough by the end that it tries to convince you that you just watched an uplifting “buddy” film, combining the words “kitten” and “Pit Bull” together to form an almost celebrity couple-like name for this unlikely duo, “Kitbull”. It would have been better if they had kept the focus on the deeper themes they explored all the way through, but since kittens and puppies are so cute and the animation captures their motions so well, I guess we can forgive them for caving in the end.
– Erik Yates
Bruno Collet, France, 12 min.
Memorable is a French animated film, utilizing impressionism and stop-motion to tell the story of a man who has a neurologically degenerative disease. As the film progresses, we see his alternating periods of lucidity, as well as his agitation when he is caught not recognizing himself in the present, or recognizing his wife’s current age. We mostly feel his wife’s pain as she has to watch her husband slowly slip away. At times this can be sweet, like when he still sees her as the 20-something year old he fell in love with, asking her to pose for him as he sketches, and other times it can be jarring as he flirts with her as when they first met, but then she realizes he doesn’t know it is her when he adds “we shouldn’t tell my wife, she will be jealous”. Memorable is an apt title for this very memorable film about the effect that losing one’s memory has on the individual, as well as those that love them.
– Erik Yates
Siqi Song, China/USA, 8 min.
Stop-motion felt puppets are the animation conduit to tell this powerful story in this Chinese/USA film. The film is told with a very dry narrative whereby the narrator is describing the problems he had as a child growing up with his sister. The animation compliments the description he is giving of her being a monster, as the baby girl grows so large that she is as large as the room, devouring all of the toys of her older brother. As the story continues, we begin to learn that we have an unreliable narrator and the story shifts to reveal a much more somber truth that deals with China’s well-documented family planning policies, head on. This film, like the other entries, will evoke strong emotions. I believe this film, however, may be the best of the bunch.
– Erik Yates