Just as reading a great short story can have an impact in a relatively few pages, short films also can entertain, inform and challenge us with limited running times. Most of our favorite filmmakers started their careers making short subjects. Which of this year’s Oscar™ nominated creators will be the makers of the next breakout independent film on their way to a studio blockbuster? You can watch and place your bets. And remember that this year the public has seen all nominated movies the same way most Academy members have been watching them for years—at home.
The 2021 Academy Awards are on Sunday, April 25. The nominated short films have been collected into three programs, Animation, Live Action and Documentary, and are now playing in select theaters and on Virtual Cinema. Trailers and more information can found here.
A selection of animations and clips inspired by the work of M.C. Escher.
By Gary Meyer
Do you remember a short film called Creature Comforts?
Stop motion clay animated zoo animals were given voice by a series of non-actors in series of “man on the street” type interviews where they talk about the advantages and disadvantages of living in a zoo. In 1991 the film won an Academy Award for director Nick Park and Aardman Animations.
They are back.
In connection with the current tour of THE PUPPET MASTER film series and Carlos Valladares’ article about Jiří Trnka we present short films about the stop motion animator.
A 1967 Czech TV short about Trnka
by Carlos Valladares
Jean Cocteau said of Jiří Trnka, the Czech animator and puppeteer, that the very name conjures up childhood and poetry. Note the “and”—childhood and poetry, la poésie de l’enfance, which Trnka treats with the depth and respect those oft-belittled years merit. We are only too quick to gloss over our fanciful kid dreams, our stumbling attempts to use simple words to convey huge emotions which we spend our adult trying to refine and intellectualize and know, know, boringly know.
Trnka, by contrast, was a seer, a dweller. He dwelled in youth, dwelled in the crevices of language before social and linguistic codes are mastered (most of his films’ narratives lose you along the way, and that’s when you know they’re working). His magic is the magic of the slow burn, the way the worlds of imperial China or a rose-wrapped Greek forest unfurl before your childlike eyes with a responsible contempt for the straight-edged story-line. Trnka’s gift—the gift, also, of Lewis Carroll, Beatrix Potter, François Truffaut, Demy in Donkey Skin mode, the late Stephen Hillenburg, and other bards of childhood—was to give kids what they most needed for maturity, a truthful artifice wrapped in a lived-in melancholy and wistfulness, and to make jaded adults see as simply as their kids again.
by Karl Cohen
A delightful blend of films that range from an exceptional sea faring drama, THE AGE OF SAIL to a very funny and goofy cartoon comedy, THE GREEN BIRD are part of The 20TH Annual Animation Show of Shows starting its national release at four San Francisco area theaters on Friday, November 2.