We’ve all been there: spending the entire day scrolling through social, responding to texts and DMs and email, descending into internet rabbit holes, and just generally escaping the world through our devices. A quirky, 2D animation titled “Blip” by Hannah Sun weighs in on this unending screen addiction as it plunges into a visual soundscape of incessant pings, bells, and other tones. Watch the colorful commentary above, and find more of the New York City-based designer’s projects on Vimeo and Instagram.
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Suffice to say, 2021 has been an emotional rollercoaster, so it’s no surprise that the short films topping Colossal’s list span the gamut: there are uncomfortable situations of poor (and relatable) office etiquette, heartwrenching indictments of the injustices around us, and purely fun works of animation. We’ve listed the most-watched shorts here and included a few extras in case you need to escape from end-of-year work projects or family gatherings.
“Moonwalk” by Nalle Sjoblad
Nalle Sjoblad’s “Moonwalk” uses brutal Home Alone-esque sequences of poor planning, office rage, and failure to appreciate even basic spatial relationships in order to remind us that the most uncomfortable, humiliating scenarios only last for a moment.
“Career Limiting” by Anna Mantzaris
Swedish director Anna Mantzaris follows a mischievous character through a series of wildly inappropriate misdeeds and poor office etiquette. Created collaboratively by Passion Pictures and Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand, the lighthearted-turned-sincere short film compares snipping off a coworker’s tie or wreaking workplace havoc to the unfair penalties of being a mother.
“Voice Above Water” by Dana Frankoff
Each day, 90-year-old Wayan gathers his nets and mesh sacks and sets his small boat out on the coast of Bali, although he’s adapted his routine in recent years: rather than harvesting food for his family and community, he scoops up wrappers, bottles, and other refuse and carries the discarded material back to the beach for recycling. San Francisco-based director Dana Frankoff visits Wayan at his coastal home in her impactful debut “Voice Above Water.”
“Save Ralph” by Arch Model Studio
Created for the Humane Society of the United States, “Save Ralph” is a poignant and heartbreaking critique of animal testing. It follows a modest rabbit whose life revolves around his role as a product tester and chronicles his struggles to brush his teeth, back pain, and a harsh round of trials for various beauty-related goods.
“Dead Meat” by Adnan Peer Mohamed
Selfish, hungry, and more cunning than he appears, the zany seagull in Adnan Peer Mohamed’s “Dead Meat” sends feathers flying. The animated short opens with the creature scouring a boardwalk for food, and after mistaking a bolt for a snack, he snatches an entire hotdog only to find a fellow bird is after the same sausage.
We also enjoyed: Pascal Schelbli’s poignant animation that reimagines plastic waste as ocean life, Roman De Giuli’s mesmerizing timelapse of ink gushing across the earth like water, and Patrick Smith’s hypnotic short film that rhythmically spins through 3,745 masks from around the world.
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What happens when a pair of curious (and hungry) rats find themselves in a kitchen of potions, tonics, and jars of strange preservatives? “Experiment” is a short film by Zoé Berton-Bojko and Susana Covo Perez—they produced the piece as part of their graduation project at the School of New Images—that follows two dueling rodents as they spar over a single dried mushroom. Once they each finally take a bite of the magical fungi, glass-shattering, fiery chaos ensues in a manner that’s as graceful as it is humorously bizarre.
Watch the full animation above, and find more student projects on the Avignon-based school’s Vimeo.
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In Anu-Laura Tuttelberg’s stop-motion short “Winter In The Rainforest,” time passes at an unusual pace. The Estonian writer, director, and animator (previously) sets a cast of fragile, porcelain puppets within the lush rainforests of Chiapas, Mexico, and the Peruvian Amazon, a contrast of real and manufactured that grounds the surreal story. Throughout the film, carnivorous flowers trap their prey, an articulate grasshopper climbs a tree, and a miniature girl wakes from a stupor at a clip that’s wildly different from their timelapsed surroundings, which are evident through leaves shaking in the wind and shadows rolling across the landscape at a quickened tempo.
Shot with 16-millimeter film, the grainy short is years in the making—Tuttelberg details the process on her site—and blurs the boundaries between the imagined and real in both material and narrative. Rather than create an illusion of the characters occupying the tropical ecosystem in a lifelike manner, each element progresses at its own speed. She explains:
While moving the puppets frame by frame, I let the light and the nature in the background move naturally. In this way, the puppets are moving smoothly in their own pace and the nature around them is changing rapidly. This creates a new obscure reality of time and space in the film. It keeps the viewer aware of the stop motion technique in the film. I don’t want to hide the animation technique behind the scene but rather to bring it out and observe the new strange reality it creates.
“Winter In The Rainforest” has already won numerous festival awards, and Tuttelberg tells Colossal she’s working on a sequel titled “On Weary Wings Go By,” which brings the same cast to the frigid beaches of Estonia and Norway. You can keep an eye out for that project, and watch the animator’s previous works, on Vimeo.
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Migrants: A Climate Disaster Forces a Polar Bear and Her Cub to Flee Their Home in a Harrowing Animation
A stunning work of both social commentary and technical dexterity, “Migrants” explores the heartbreaking aftermath of a climate disaster. The animation—which is an impressive collaboration between fifth-year animations students Zoé Devise, Hugo Caby, Antoine Dupriez, Aubin Kubiak, and Lucas Lermytte, who are currently enrolled at the French Pôle 3D school—centers on a simple story: a mother polar bear and her cub flee their arctic habitat as styrofoam icebergs crumble into the water and their once-frozen home becomes unlivable. As they encounter insensitive brown bears in a lush, green climate, the duo struggles to survive.
Through knitted patchwork characters and sets digitally crafted to evoke stop-motion techniques, the poignant short expands on climate crisis narratives that explore only the immediate effects of a hurricane, fire, or in this case, an entire region of the planet that’s melting. Instead, “Migrants” includes the difficulty refugees face when they’re displaced by such events, and the adorable, plush cub’s scared expressions and fearful whimpers generate a dose of empathy often lacking from today’s conversations and debates. In an interview diving into their process, the directors said:
We knew we wanted to make a short film about society and current issues. In 2018, there was a controversy about the “Aquarius” boat, which had rescued migrants in the Mediterranean sea but no country wanted to allow the boat to land at its ports. We were touched by this, and we were inspired by this event as the subject for our movie. So we made a story about the issue of migration, but with the global warming theme layered on top of it. With polar bears as our main characters, as they are one of the species most affected by climate change.
According to Short of the Week, the moving film already has garnered multiple awards from festivals, and it’s likely in the running for an Oscar. Head to Pôle 3D’s Vimeo to watch more student creations.
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Ten years after Irish animator and director Johnny Kelly (previously) brought us a charming stop-motion ad for Chipotle about a farmer’s return to organic methods, he’s back with an emotional sequel that revisits the now-aging protagonist. The new short film, titled “A Future Begins,” follows the same mustached rancher as he struggles to maintain his pesticide-free fields and natural techniques amidst weather catastrophes and other struggles. When his son returns from college and a busy life in the city, the reunited family implements a range of sustainable technologies like solar panels, greenhouses, polyculture, and companion planting that make the farm thrive.
Kelly and the team behind the new ad documented their meticulous process in an immersive making-of video, which dives into pre-production digital mockups, techniques for hand-sculpting innumerable trees and the bucolic landscape, and updates to the puppets themselves, which feature magnetic waists that allow them to pivot in various stances. Similar to its award-winning predecessor, “A Future Begins” is paired with a Coldplay cover, with this iteration featuring “Fix You” by Kasey Musgraves.
Find more of Kellly’s animated projects and collaborations on Vimeo.
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Editor's Picks: Animation
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.