Dad’s Fragile Doll (Iran) (2014)
A young girl uses imagination to mentally work through her family situation. The film by Ali Zareghanatnowi has an interesting animation style that looks like moving sketches. The style is visually appealing but can become too much in scenes with more action, which is unfortunate. The film shows the horrors that humanity can do and how a young girl uses the power of imagination to help herself. This short shows that imagination liberates you, frees you of your cage, of your oppressor. The use of dolls and animation as surrogates for reality brings forth the message and the emotions.
3:14 (Mexico) (2015)
This student project about what happens at 3:14a.m. to a man who has been on the road for 10 hours and is losing his sanity is only partially animation with a live action portion. This short by Patricio Marin Avelar is stylish and keeps the attention throughout even though what is happening is not always very clear. The film’s subject and its story feel a bit like they are left up to interpretation as to why things are happening the way they are. The end credits with what looks like story boards are well done and interesting to watch.
Beware of Bunny (USA) (2015)
In director Rebecca Gill’s animated short, a young boy named Enrique finds the cutest bunny while walking home. The bunny gets attached to him and turns out to have a hidden side. In the infamous words of more knowledgeable gentlemen “that’s no ordinary bunny”. This short is adorable and dark all at once, it’s also fun while being just a little creepy. The sweetness is not overly so and its works well within the film’s environment. This bunny would fool anyone, so it fooling a child is believable. The animation style here is like a dark Happy Tree Friends with a bit more emphasis on the evil side of the bunny than those cartoons would have put while also being less bloody. The short Beware of Bunny is almost child friendly but not quite.
AD RE (Columbia) (2016)
This super short short follows Faust as he approaches a girl and things change from dream to reality or nightmare. This animated short by Duban Rodriguez has an interesting animation style and sound design as it starts silent, then gets a bit of sound, and gradually adds sound and music to its audio element. The film has a mystery to it as not everything is clear and the ending leaves some questions unanswered.
Balloon Ride (Australia) (2015)
This stop-motion animation short follows a young boy as he dreams of floating away with his mom, away from his abusive father. The fear this boy lives under fuels this dream until it all comes crashing down on him. Director Evan Hughes takes a difficult subject, domestic violence and abuse, and makes a beautifully sad film that hits right in the feels. His film shows how imagination can save a child from a horrible situation. Similarly to Dad’s Fragile Doll, the film explores the power of imagination when a person or a child is placed in a situation that is hard for them, too hard to deal with head on. Balloon Ride does this in a less political way as it’s not an external force such as war that is affecting the child directly or indirectly, but an internal one, one the child has a conflict in wanting to run from.
Travel by Feet (Spain) (2015)
Director Khris Cembe’s short is an animation geared towards adults not only in content but in style as well; it looks very pretty from the opening on. On a train at night, a man is saddled with a stinky compartment mate so he finds ways to escape him. The animation style for Travel by Feet is very European, reminiscent of more mature animations that are more widely distributed. The film is mature yet almost darkly whimsical as it follows a man who just wants to have some peace yet gets road block after road block. The film is visually beautiful with a darkness that can appeal to most audiences but especially to horror fans. This short is one of the few that could definitely work as a feature.
The Detectives of Noir Town (Australia) (2015)
In this puppets and people hybrid, puppets and people live in the same town. A puppet detective investigates the disappearance of his uncle while competing with a human detective. In this short written by Andrew Chambers and Paul Layton, based on a story by Chambers, and directed by Chambers as well, the puppets mix with their human counterparts as if it were entirely normal, bringing the audience into their world. The mystery they all work on is interesting and keeps the attention of the audience. The puppets in this short look fantastic and the way its shot, with cinematography by Patrick Smith, gives it a specific style and harks back to the noir films of decades past. The Detectives of Noir Town is a fun mystery with great looking puppets and good human cast going through some almost ridiculous things.
Cat Killer (USA) (2015)
Director Jeff Dorer creates a high contrast black and white animation that is highly stylized. The story of Cat Killer is that of an exterminator hired to rid an abandoned building of his feral cat population. His technique is unorthodox and more than a bit cruel. Cat Killer is a short with a lot of visual impact as it catches the eye and keeps the interest. It’s a film that deals with reality and dreams to an extent while having stark images and a difficult subject matter to some. This is a short film that may make some unhappy and want to turn it off due to this subject matter and how it’s handled.
The Marshalls (UK) (2016)
Director Adeena Grubb’s stop-motion animation short feels like it’s fallen right out of The Corpse Bride and other Burton films with a smidge of extra darkness. Everything seen on the screen, from characters to sets, is made by director Grubb and painstakingly shot in 2,208 images and her attention to detail and passion show in each one of them. The film starts off a bit dreamy and slowly adds gruesome elements. The music adds to the dreamy side of things creating an atmosphere, completing the feeling of the film. The film’s story is simple, showing the life of a family with a dark secret. This one is perfect for fans of the odd and unusual.