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Added by Andy Goulding on 2 Feb 2016 03:15
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1001 Animated Shorts You Must See - Part 17

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People who added this item 110 Average listal rating (78 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.7
Fallen Art (2004)
DIR: Tomasz Baginski

SUMMARY: A trio of sinister figures collude to make art out of the pointless death of soldiers.

WHY IT'S HERE: Polish animator Tomasz Baginski was responsible for the Oscar nominated 'Katedra', an animated short hailed by many as a latter-day masterpiece but which I found to be a coldly clinical watch, like a cut-scene from a computer game. 'Fallen Art', his follow-up, is a much better and visually very different film. Like 'Katedra', it puts its message across through symbolism but in this case it is shot through with an absolutely pitch-black comedy that balances the shock with a satirical stomach-stab. There are many meanings that can be applied to 'Fallen Art'. Most see it as an anti-military film while others see it as an allegory for Poland under communism. It also has much to say about the creation of art from something horrible, the exploitation of life for entertainment. The way in which it tackles these subjects is not pleasant but is quite impossible to forget once seen.
People who added this item 165 Average listal rating (135 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 8.1
DIR: David Firth

SUMMARY: A strange, bald green man named Salad Fingers lives in a hazy wilderness where he seems consumed by a partially imaginary world and a penchant for masochistic activities such as stroking rusty spoons.

WHY IT'S HERE: As internet flash animations became more popular in the 21st century, certain series began to distinguish themselves as the masterpieces of this sub-genre. One of the best-known but also most divisive of these flash series was English animator David Firth's 'Salad Fingers'. Firth had been making flash animations for several years when he started the 'Salad Fingers' series, most of which explored dark themes such as mental illness, death and depression but through the filter of an absurdism that sometimes balanced the films and sometimes made them all the more troubling. With 'Salad Fingers' he made his masterpiece, a terrifying but strangely hilarious examination of a deranged, lonely green humanoid who lives in a desolate wasteland and creates his own fantasy worlds for amusement. Although obviously deeply troubled, Salad Fingers also has a generally cheery demeanour and a friendliness which often results in the inadvertent demise of others. Brilliantly voiced by Firth, 'Salad Fingers' is strange but not lazily so. Though some critics have suggested the series is nothing but a mood onto which Firth pins randomly generated weirdness, it is in fact filled with clever character comedy which drives the direction the bizarreness takes. It's certainly not for everyone but 'Salad Fingers' is a unique piece of work that will delight those tuned-in to its particular appeal.
DIR: Arthur de Pins

SUMMARY: The tale of Pachygrapsus marmoratus, a species of crab that cannot change direction, and one crab's surprising discovery regarding this problem.

WHY IT'S HERE: French animator Arthur de Pins' 'The Crab Revolution' is a delightfully funny short about a species of crab that cannot turn. Doomed to march sideways with only the choice of two directions, the crabs continue on their endless marches. Some are lucky and have long, interesting paths. Others have the misfortune to be born between two closely-spaced rocks and are doomed to walk backwards and forwards across the same small patch of land forever. Then, one of their number discovers he can turn, which leads to some surprising reactions from his fellow crabs. 'The Crab Revolution' has a simple but extremely effective black and white art style which captures the world of the crabs beautifully. Though only five minutes long, 'The Crab Revolution' packs in a lot of content, including an ending which has much to say about human nature by way of crabby surrogates.
People who added this item 1 Average listal rating (1 ratings) 6 IMDB Rating 7.8
This Land (2004)
DIR: Gregg Spiridellis, Evan Spiridellis

SUMMARY: George W. Bush and John Kerry sing a partisan rendition of Woody Guthrie's 'This Land is Your Land'.

WHY IT'S HERE: By 2004, internet animation was becoming very popular and brothers Gregg and Evan Spiridellis finally achieved a dream they had held for several years when their wonderful satire 'This Land' went ballistic. Made in response to the 2004 presidential election, 'This Land' depicts candidates George W. Bush and John Kerry singing a version of Woody Guthrie's 'This Land is Your Land' in which they take turns in slandering the other as a right wing nut job and a wishy-washy liberal. Unlike much internet satire of the time, 'This Land' doesn't take one particular side but emerges as a humorous jab at the political system in general, mocking both candidates without disappearing into a damaging cynicism or one-sided attack. Bright, colourful and cheery even as it highlights the depths to which political debate has plummeted, 'This Land' bounced from inbox to inbox and was featured on many prominent TV shows with the creators eventually appearing as guests on Jay Leno's 'Tonight Show'. Looking back on 'This Land', it now seems like a delightful glimpse of early 21st century politics and shares a similar charm with Jimmy Picker's shorts 'Jimmy the C' and 'Sundae in New York', in which political figures of the age were gently parodied through music.
DIR: Phil Mulloy

SUMMARY: As the human race's search for the planet Zog continues in vain, they begin to split into a number of different groups who violently oppose each other.

WHY IT'S HERE: The final part of Phil Mulloy's 'Intolerance' trilogy about the war between human beings and the Zog marks the moment when the series becomes almost incomprehensible. For this finale, Mulloy has crammed in a ton of bizarre plot twists, sci-fi clichés and hilarious non-sequiturs and while the film is as entertaining as its predecessors, it raises more questions than it answers in terms of continuity. There seems to be a 'Dallas'-esque attempt to write off part two as a dream at the beginning of 'Intolerance III', which would handily solve some of the contradictions, although it seems a shame give that this was the best part of the trilogy. For all its occasionally baffling ambition, 'Intolerance III' does have a great ending and continues Mulloy's tradition of unforgiving satire about organised religion. The moment when the religious leaders of every faction are exposed is superb.
People who added this item 1 Average listal rating (0 ratings) 0 IMDB Rating 7.2
DIR: Pjotr Sapegin

SUMMARY: An elderly Norwegian man tells his granddaughter about his experiences during the war in an effort to distract her while he puts on her winter hat.

WHY IT'S HERE: Pjotr Sapegin's 'Through My Thick Glasses' is a delightful Claymation short in which an elderly man recounts his experience as a youth during World War 2, including his numerous attempts to join the Resistance. With shades of Aardman's classic 'War Story' but with greater scope and ambition, 'Through My Thick Glasses' matches its charming animation with a superb script, which is filled with funny moments but also has images of deep sadness, such as a boy who is never able to forgive his mother for the difficult decision she makes regarding him. This lifelong split is portrayed through three simple images of the boy at various stages of his life, his back turned on his mother as she sits with her head in her hands. Combining a moving realism with fantastical moments of embroidered tall-tales, 'Through My Thick Glasses' is a short to revisit again and again, reaffirming its emotional complexity even as it effortlessly entertains.
People who added this item 1 Average listal rating (0 ratings) 0 IMDB Rating 6.8
Little Things (2004)
DIR: Daniel Greaves

SUMMARY: Across seven days, various people are plagued by the little frustrations of life, albeit with some surreal twists.

WHY IT'S HERE: Daniel Greaves' BAFTA-nominated 'Little Things' is one of the great underrated short animations. With shades of the animation and humour of Greaves' other masterpiece, 'Flatworld', 'Little Things' takes the form of a series of short sketches in which people grapple with the little frustrations in life, from faulty machinery to their own impatience. At first 'Little Things' seems like it might be a film of pedantic niggles, themselves more frustrating than the situations they portray. However, this expectation is quickly confounded by the unusual twists in every one of the sketches. The longer sections, such as a man's epic battle with a condom dispenser, all have great pay-offs and are often tinged with the surreal, as everyday objects begin to control the weather or set off alarms that can only be silenced by the removal of one's clothing. Following the seven days, we then witness day zero, when all the characters and their particular problems come together and ultimately reveal that there is literally no escape from the little irritations in life, even if you take the most extreme measures.
People who added this item 1 Average listal rating (0 ratings) 0 IMDB Rating 5.8
DIR: Gaelle Denis

SUMMARY: Naoko, the owner of a sushi restaurant, is suffering from insomnia, which leads her to ponder why fish never sleep.

WHY IT'S HERE: French director Gaelle Denis is a true original and while her work is not always easy to understand, it is nevertheless strangely accessible. Her debut film 'Fish Never Sleep' has a dreamlike quality, ironic since it is about an insomniac. Influenced by her four months working at the Kyoto University of Arts, Denis's film has a Japanese flavour which is accentuated by the vivid use of red and white, instantly suggesting the Japanese flag as well as the guts of the fish we see chopped at the Tsukiji Market, the biggest fish market in the world. Naoko's philosophising reaches its peak following a symbolic submersion, a theme that Denis would repeat in her following film 'City Paradise'. 'Fish Never Sleep' won the BAFTA for best animated short, its combination of childlike drawings and astonishing use of colour, as well as the mixture of the intangible and hypnotic, making for a very impressive debut from a unique talent.
People who added this item 3 Average listal rating (1 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 6.4
City Paradise (2004)
DIR: Gaelle Denis

SUMMARY: Tomoko arrives in London from Japan and finds it hard to integrate, until she has a surreal experience in a secret underground city.

WHY IT'S HERE: Following her BAFTA win with the impressive debut 'Fish Never Sleep', Gaelle Denis bagged another BAFTA nomination with her second film 'City Paradise'. Aesthetically very different from 'Fish Never Sleep', 'City Paradise' is tonally and thematically similar, marking Denis out as a notable auteur of commendable ambition and astonishing vision. 'City Paradise' combines live action actors with a range of animation techniques to evoke a feeling of London as viewed through the eyes of a new arrival. Denis brilliantly encapsulates the frighteningly foreign environment as her heroine Tomoko attempts to integrate through the use of ineffective language tapes. When these prove ineffective, it is a surreal experience in the local swimming pool that makes all the difference. Tomoko's experiences underwater after she falls and hits her head make for a remarkable sequence and Denis evokes a third city, albeit fictional, in her triptych of geographical reference points. Bursting with colour and an atmosphere that veers from hopeful to frightening to upbeat in a mere five minutes, 'City Paradise' is further evidence of Denis's unique vision and the film has connected with many viewers who have enjoyed the ambiguity and the opportunity to hang their own interpretations onto the narrative.
People who added this item 1 Average listal rating (0 ratings) 0 IMDB Rating 0
A Plan (2004)
DIR: Tom Schroeder

SUMMARY: A young boy envisages turning a family boat trip into an adventure when he realises the boat is nearly out of fuel.

WHY IT'S HERE: Tom Schroeder's 'A Plan' is a delightful glimpse of childhood, as we join a young boy on his family holiday, imagining he will save the day when the boat runs out of fuel. The story here is very small, with few surprises and no real intention to wrong-foot the viewer. Rather, Schroeder captures a sense of youthful imagination and the absolute conviction children have that they can pull off an impossible feat. Influenced by Jacques Tati, 'A Plan' is told entirely without dialogue, unlike Schroeder's previous films 'Bike Ride' and 'Riding with Harv', which featured dialogue prominently. With simple but appealing designs, Schroeder puts across his characters' thoughts and feelings vividly, while the brightly coloured backgrounds make the whole experience gloriously immersive. A film of simple charms, 'A Plan' takes the viewer out of their adult body and mind for its brief runtime.
People who added this item 27 Average listal rating (20 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 0
DIR: Geza M. Toth

SUMMARY: A singing star prepares for an upcoming performance.

WHY IT'S HERE: Hungarian animator Géza M. Tóth's 'Maestro' is a wonderfully clever short. I won't say too much about this little gem because it would spoil it but, suffice it to say, Toth has captured a small moment in time impeccably. This is a claustrophobic examination of a performer warming up before a show with the assistance of a mechanised helper. The animation is nice and as the details are slowly revealed and we become aware of exactly what we are watching, 'Maestro' quickly goes from an enjoyable little curio to a brilliantly clever little short.
People who added this item 13 Average listal rating (11 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 7.3
DIR: Bill Plympton

SUMMARY: A ceiling fan and a house plant fall in love but they can never get close enough to touch.

WHY IT'S HERE: Written by sitcom veteran Dan O'Shannon, 'The Fan and the Flower' is a children's love story with a sweet nature and a romantic soul. Perhaps many would be surprised to learn then that the director of the film is Bill Plympton, a man better known for his exercises in the grotesque and explicit, such as 'Sex and Violence' or 'Your Face'. Plympton was always more than the one-trick pony many tarred him as however, and 'The Fan and the Flower' is both beautifully made and distinctively Plympton's work. Take a look, for instance, at the moment when the fan shows off for the plant by spinning on its highest setting and the plant hangs on for dear life to the table. This has Plmypton's fingerprints all over it. Rendered in stark black and white, 'The Fan and the Flower' is brilliantly narrated by Paul Giamatti, who captures the mood of the piece in all its romantic strangeness.
People who added this item 10 Average listal rating (8 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.5
Rabbit (2005)
DIR: Run Wrake

SUMMARY: Two sadistic, greedy children murder a rabbit and find a small, golden idol inside it who has the power to turn insects into jewels.

WHY IT'S HERE: British animator Run Wrake's 'Rabbit' is a funny, grisly, brutal morality tale which Wrake created using a series of children's educational stickers from the 1950s which he found in a charity shop envelope. British audiences will likely recognise the style of the illustrations from Ladybird books and Enid Blyton novels; cherubic children with dead-eyed smiles and bright clothing. The stickers, which retain their identifying captions throughout the animation, create a humorous juxtaposition to the thoughtless, greedy and sadistic actions of the characters as they attempt to exploit the powers of a small golden idol through the most brutal methods imaginable. Though 'Rabbit' may just appear to be nasty to anyone who is unfamiliar with its visual source, it is hysterically funny for anyone who recognises the illustration style and the associated wholesomeness which Wrake so thoroughly subverts. Sadly, Wrake died from lung cancer in 2011, robbing the animation world of a great talent just as he was hitting his stride.
People who added this item 1 Average listal rating (0 ratings) 0 IMDB Rating 6.3
Astronauts (2005)
DIR: Matthew Walker

SUMMARY: When two astronauts find themselves sharing just one tank of oxygen, they must endure the social awkwardness of one of them sacrificing themselves for the other.

WHY IT'S HERE: British animator Matthew Walker's graduation film 'Astronauts' is a very funny short which transfers all the cringe-inducing humour of social awkwardness into a small spaceship. When one bored astronaut can't resist pressing a big, red button on the console, he inadvertently jettisons one of the ship's oxygen tanks and must then make the supreme sacrifice to save his friend. The problem is he's not over-keen on leaving. The interaction between the two main characters is hilarious, especially during one long, awkward silence in which they are both wearing spacesuits. Although it begins with a large, beautiful lunar landscape, 'Astronauts' quickly confines itself to a claustrophobic space, as Walker is more interested in how these two inadequate explorers relate to each other than what might be out there in unchartered space. Amidst the priceless interactions, there are lots of little details to pick out. For instance, one of the astronauts is working on a crossword and a brief glimpse of the grid reveals that he has added his own box at the side in order to fit in an answer that doesn't belong there!
People who added this item 10 Average listal rating (7 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 0
DIR: Sharon Colman

SUMMARY: A badger's hibernation is interrupted, first by two noisy crows and then by the arrival of three nuclear missiles.

WHY IT'S HERE: Scottish animator Sharon Colman's Oscar-nominated 'Badgered' is a delightful little short which contrasts the story of one badger's attempts to sleep with the prospect of a nuclear holocaust for some unseen unfortunates. Sweetly and simply hand-drawn, Colman's short initially gets a lot of comedy mileage out of the sheer irritating squawking of the spectacularly ugly crows. But when a lorry arrives and buries three nuclear missiles in the badger's hill, 'Badgered' takes a darker turn as hibernation turns to annihilation in a matter of seconds. While the wider implications of the destruction wrought in 'Badgered' are not ignored, they are so brilliantly folded into the film as to almost appear secondary. The contrast between the horrendous devastation off-screen and the cosy finale, complete with its serene soundtrack, make for a witty film that lingers longer in the memory thanks to its dark undertones.
People who added this item 4 Average listal rating (3 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.6
Over Time (2005)
DIR: Oury Atlan, Damien Ferrie, Thibault Berland

SUMMARY: A group of puppets pay tribute to their recently deceased master.

WHY IT'S HERE: The French student film 'Over Time' is a terrific tribute to the late Jim Henson, a personal hero of mine and generations of others. A black and white CG mini-masterpiece, 'Over Time features a group of Kermit-esque puppets aching for one more evening with their deceased creator. They achieve this by turning him into a giant puppet which they manipulate to join in with their activities. The trio of directors Oury Atlan, Damien Ferrie and Thibault Berland are clearly Muppets fans themselves, for they have captured exquisitely the lifelike movements that Henson and his team brought to their iconic creations. Tender, moving and strange, 'Over Time' is a cult classic that Henson himself surely would have adored.
DIR: Anthony Lucas

SUMMARY: A disgraced aerial navigator sets out on a voyage to redeem himself.

WHY IT'S HERE: 'The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello' is an epic 26 minute sci-fi adventure story in the mould of Edgar Allen Poe and Jules Verne. Beautifully depicted in silhouette, the short follows the crew of an airship in a plague-ridden industrial metropolis. Silhouette animation can be enormously effective if done right and director Anthony Lucas has created some of the most impressively epic silhouetted visuals I've ever come across. Although his work immediately recalls Lotte Reiniger and Michel Ocelot, Lucas actually discovered how effective silhouettes can be when a lighting issue on one of his films suddenly turned his figures into shadows, which he immediately adopted as a style. Influenced by steampunk, Lucas's world is filled with intricate machinery and turning cogs which create a phenomenal backdrop for the action. Lucas's skills did not go unnoticed and the film bagged an Oscar nomination.
DIR: John Canemaker

SUMMARY: Director John Canemaker presents an imagined conversation between himself and his late father.

WHY IT'S HERE: From a short synopsis, John Canemaker's Oscar-winning 'The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation' sounds like sentimental awards-bait but when you actually see this half-hour conversation piece you realise that sentiment has absolutely nothing to do with it. Although it revolves around a fictional conversation between Canemaker and his late father (portrayed in voiceover by John Turturro and Eli Wallach), Canemaker's film is angry, bitter and resolutely unsentimental. Illustrating the story of their relationship through snippets of inventive animation and real photos and newspaper articles, Canemaker reveals a monstrous figure of a father who was abusive, volatile and ultimately criminal, often in trouble with the law due to his mafia connections. In giving his father a voice in the narration, Canemaker humanises his subject for us, showing to an extent the reasons and thought-processes behind his father's actions. But ultimately this is not a film about forgiveness or nostalgia. While he does acknowledge the few good things his father did, like helping him make his first cartoon, Canemaker ultimately ends the piece by distancing himself from his father in every way other than as a didactic memory. The closing moments, in which a lesser filmmaker would have been tempted to force an unearned posthumous reconciliation, show Canemaker at his angriest and even undermines one of the few parts of the film from earlier on that may have seemed vaguely pleasant. 'The Moon and the Son' is a truly raw, emotionally taxing experience but in the concise, gripping telling of its fascinating story and the attractively simple but diverse artistic style of its visual accompaniments, it's an endlessly enjoyable and rewatchable piece as well.
People who added this item 366 Average listal rating (250 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.7
DIR: Mark Andrews, Andrew Jimenez

SUMMARY: Two street performers compete for a little girl's money.

WHY IT'S HERE: Pixar's 'One Man Band' is another great little pantomime piece from a studio at the top of its game. A comedy short in which two street performers go to great heights to outdo each other, much to the alarm of a little girl with only one coin to offer, the story may look like a fable about greed but is largely just an enjoyable four minute joke. This is preferable to the preachy tone it may have taken, with the final punchline feeling amusingly sadistic rather than satisfyingly just. As usual, the animation is terrific, while the musical accompaniment is suitably grandiose for a short so centralised on music. The virtuoso violin solos are provided by Clayton Haslop and Mark Robertson.
People who added this item 218 Average listal rating (130 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.8
9 (2005)
DIR: Shane Acker

SUMMARY: A rag doll fights a monster that has been stealing his people's souls.

WHY IT'S HERE: Shane Acker's '9' is a sumptuous computer animated story of a rag doll in a post-apocalyptic world. Told without words, '9' squeezes an action film's worth of event into just 10 minutes, with stunning visuals and a plot that effortlessly draws you in. Tim Burton was so impressed by the film that he produced Acker's 2009 full length feature version of '9', which received mixed reviews. It's elongated story and reliance on dialogue instead of action meant it could never top the source material, which cuts out all the flab and just presents us with a gripping mini-adventure. '9' was nominated for an Oscar but sadly lost out to 'The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation'.
People who added this item 4 Average listal rating (2 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.3
DIR: Josh Staub

SUMMARY: A caterpillar needs help to escape from a bug-collector's jar but a praying mantis writes it off as hopeless... until it finds itself in a similar predicament.

WHY IT'S HERE: Former computer game developer Josh Staub made 'The Mantis Parable' entirely by himself in his spare time, right down to the musical score. A labour of love, this eight minute short took 18 months to complete and helped secure Staub a job as animator at Walt Disney Studios. A touching tale of our responsibility to help each other through life, 'The Mantis Parable' uses realistic but relatable insect characters to tell its tale. The highlight of the film is a conversation between a praying mantis and a caterpillar, which consists entirely of silent gesticulations through the transparent barrier of a glass prison. Staub's delicate piano score beautifully captures the mood of the piece and his setting of the film on a table-top in clear view of a window to freedom is tantalisingly compelling. 'The Mantis Parable' received international acclaim and was more than worth the blood, sweat and tears that obviously went into its creation for the joy and hope it has brought to so many people.
People who added this item 50 Average listal rating (33 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.4
Rubber Johnny (2005)
DIR: Chris Cunningham

SUMMARY: A mutant wheelchair-bound boy is locked in a basement with his Chihuahua where he escapes into a rave fantasy.

WHY IT'S HERE: Chris Cunningham is one of the most inventive and acclaimed video artists in the UK. Having made much lauded music videos for Squarepusher and Bjork, Cunningham is perhaps best known for his work with Aphex Twin on the videos 'Come to Daddy' and 'Windowlicker', both of which were deemed too dark for daytime viewing. Cunningham's six-minute experimental film 'Rubber Johnny' again uses the music of Aphex Twin and grew out of an idea for a 30 second advert for the album 'drukqs'. Sharing the same dark, disturbing but blackly comic atmosphere as those earlier promos, 'Rubber Johnny' combines animation with rapid editing to create an astonishingly visceral short. Shot in infrared vision in a darkened basement, the film shows Johnny dancing frantically to 'afx237 v7 (w19rhbasement remix)', an Aphex Twin remix by Cunningham himself. Although Johnny's life as depicted here is one of enforced isolation and abuse by his uncaring father, there is a strange joy in the escape he finds in music. Are his mesmerising dance moves a reality or just the fantasy of a physically limited being. Only Johnny and his Chihuahua know for sure!
People who added this item 64 Average listal rating (44 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.3
DIR: Don Hertzfeldt

SUMMARY: A meditation on the meaning of existence which charts the evolution of human beings from prehistory to the distant future.

WHY IT'S HERE: Having achieved internet fame with his Oscar-nominated classic 'Rejected', Don Hertzfeldt continued to assert himself as one of the most vital animators working today with the massively ambitious 'The Meaning of Life'. Although the style is recognisably Hertzfeldt's, the tone of 'The Meaning of Life' is quite different from his previous work, which lead many fans of 'Rejected' and 'Billy's Balloon' to write it off as pretentious (often a code-word for 'I don't want to think') and demand a return to what they expected. But Hertzfeldt was growing as a talent and commented "I don't often make the same sort of movie twice in a row. It’s always been whatever's next in my head. From a commercial standpoint I guess I’ve made some pretty inscrutable decisions, like following up "Rejected" with a sprawling abstract film about human evolution, but it's really just been whichever ideas won't go away at the time. There's always a lot of new things I’d like to try..."

'The Meaning of Life' is certainly a unique piece of work, although some drew favourable comparisons with Kubrick's '2001: A Space Odyssey' for its massive scope and use of classical music on the soundtrack. 'The Meaning of Life' opens with a hysterically funny four minute segment in which mankind evolves into a rabble of wandering, aggressive, confused, lost people all walking back and forth and repeating one phrase. The phrases Hertzfeldt puts in their mouths are hilarious and perfectly matched with their mannerisms, but as the number of figures on the screen multiplies it becomes harder and harder to hear what everyone is saying. This sequence is endlessly rewatchable, as the viewer tends to pick out new details each time. The sequence ends with the extinction of humans as we know them. What then follows is a series of evolutionary steps in which crowds of increasingly less-human-looking creatures behave in a similar way to humans, albeit with their pointless blatherings in different languages. The film concludes with a discussion of the meaning of life itself, between what appears to be an adult male and a child of a future incarnation of mankind. The discussion is lengthy and emphatic but, of course, we are not able to understand it... yet!

'The Meaning of Life' has been seen by many as cynical, interspersing images of infuriating hustle-bustle with visions of the universe which dwarf any importance we might hang on everyday concerns. But I think this is an oversimplification of Hertzfeldt's intentions. Yes, he contrasts the vast expanses of space and time with the small concerns of humanoids, but he does so with great reverence for the unknowable wonders of the universe and does not discourage us from speculating on the meaning of our existence, merely suggests that the odds of us ever nailing down an ultimate answer are miniscule. Even the answer presented in an alien language at the film's end seems to be spat with a petulance and disdainful certainty which suggests we'll still be arrogantly enamoured of our own attempts to unlock the mysteries of life millions of years from now.
People who added this item 19 Average listal rating (10 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.3
DIR: Marco Besas

SUMMARY: A lonely scarecrow longs to befriend the crows in his field but the nature of his job makes it impossible.

WHY IT'S HERE: Spanish director Marco Besas's 'The Legend of the Scarecrow' is a melancholy little gothic fairy tale which draws influence from Tim Burton and Rudyard Kipling. What begins as a sad but seemingly straightforward tale of a scarecrow who longs to be friends with the birds quickly morphs into a much darker, sadder and thematically richer work as the scarecrow's attempts to be reassigned bring down upon him a fate reminiscent of Frankenstein's monster. Besas memorably combines CG and hand-drawn animation in a way that initially seems jarring but quickly reveals itself to be very effective, especially when related to the themes of the piece. Sancho Gracia's narration gives 'The Legend of the Scarecrow' a traditional storybook feel but more sensitive children may want to approach this film with caution.
People who added this item 2 Average listal rating (0 ratings) 5 IMDB Rating 6.5
DIR: Spike Brandt, Joseph Barbera

SUMMARY: Having trained in the art of Karate, Jerry is given a gong by his spirit-guide which will summon a bodyguard whenever he needs him.

WHY IT'S HERE: Numerous attempts to revive the classic characters of Tom and Jerry were made over the years but none of them ever recaptured the magic of those first Hanna-Barbera shorts for MGM. In some cases, such as the compromised 1992 film 'Tom and Jerry: The Movie', the results were downright catastrophic. In 2005, one year before his death, co-creator Joseph Barbera co-wrote and co-directed his final Tom and Jerry short. This alone makes it worth seeing, although there are other plus-points to the film. 'The Karate Guard' is very much in the style of the classic Tom and Jerry shorts, mimicking the look, music and violence of the originals. Many latter day Tom and Jerrys shied away from the brutality but here we have Tom crushed in a garbage compacter and sliced in two with a Samurai sword! However, there are many elements that mark 'The Karate Guard' out as unworthy of the Hanna-Barbera legacy. For one, it is essentially a remake of the classic 1944 short 'The Bodyguard', only this time casting Spike as an Eastern spirit guardian. This extra plot wrinkle is typical of the short's over-egging and Barbera displays an unfortunate inability to keep the material on track, lapsing into long sequences which seem to forget the premise and trying to stuff too many diverse ideas into eight minutes. Nevertheless, 'The Karate Guard' is a valiant effort and worth a watch to see Barbera's final bow and show that, even in today's enlightened society, there's still a place for cartoon violence.
People who added this item 1 Average listal rating (0 ratings) 0 IMDB Rating 7.4
DIR: Sumito Sakakibara

SUMMARY: A young Japanese girl writes a letter to her absent mother.

WHY IT'S HERE: Sumito Sakakibara's elegant, understated graduation film 'Kamiya's Correspondence' is a moving, detailed glimpse into Japanese family life which combines moments of gentle humour and melancholy with a rich visual style. The colour palette is pale and washed-out, but this gives the film its distinct look which, while recognisably Japanese, is a far cry from the images of Anime that description may bring to mind. Although the cultural details of the young girl's letter to her mother set it apart in some cases, 'Kamiya's Correspondence' has a universality in its encapsulation of quiet moments of reflection in life and how we perceive our own worlds when we take a step back from them. Unassuming but deeply touching, 'Kamiya's Correspondence' is a masterclass in effective, unshowy animation.
People who added this item 5 Average listal rating (4 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.3
Film Noir (2005)
DIR: Osbert Parker

SUMMARY: The spirit of classic Film Noir is evoked in a series of scenes using images and iconography from key films of the genre.

WHY IT'S HERE: British animator Osbert Parker's 'Film Noir' is a terrific evocation of the classic movie genre in which Parker has used a mixture of footage from key films, cut-out and stop-motion animation to encapsulate all that is great about these films. At first reminiscent of Virgil Widrich's 'Fast Film' in its use of classic movie footage, 'Film Noir' also seems indebted to Jan Svankmajer in its creepy moments of stop-motion, in which objects wriggle round the screen as if alive. This barrage of captivating images ultimately reveals itself as an endless cycle of violence, in which fatal gunshots and double crossings are doomed to be repeated over and over. Although it will no doubt appeal more to fans of Film Noir, this superb little short has enough ingenuity to win over most audiences.
People who added this item 58 Average listal rating (36 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 8
My Love (2007)
DIR: Aleksandr Petrov

SUMMARY: A young man is torn between his love for two very different women.

WHY IT'S HERE: Based on the 1927 novel 'A Love Story' by Ivan Shmelyov, Aleksandr Petrov's 'My Love' is the director's striking follow-up to his Oscar winning 'The Old Man and the Sea'. Like that film, 'My Love' is painted on glass and tells a realistic, emotionally complex story, although some critics dismissed it as trite sentimentalism. Though few could argue against the fact that Petrov's animation was astoundingly beautiful, many of his contemporaries such as Yuri Norshteyn found his latest work coldly clinical and longed for more than bland visual perfectionism. It is true to say that 'My Love' is more swooningly romantic than 'The Old Man and the Sea' and Hemingway's source material seemed like a better fit for Petrov's style than Shmelyov's does, but 'My Love' is still an engrossing work which manages to encapsulate the naïve confusions of first love and the conflicts between love and sexual desire. Petrov combines his realism with epic fantasy visions and, while sentimentality sometimes takes hold, the film never gives in to it and uses it mainly to reflect the main character's youthful impetuousness. Stunningly beautiful to look at and with a familiar but satisfying story, 'My Love' is another great work from Petrov.
People who added this item 15 Average listal rating (9 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 6.8
Guide Dog (2006)
DIR: Bill Plympton

SUMMARY: An overenthusiastic dog applies for the role of guide dog, but it's a dangerous world out there and he struggles to protect his clients from the threats of the big city.

WHY IT'S HERE: After the success of his Oscar-nominated 'Guard Dog', Bill Plympton brought back the dog character from that short for the second in what would become a short series of films. 'Guide Dog', though superficially similar, is really a quite different film from 'Guard Dog'. In the first film, the dog responded to perceived threats that were all in his mind. In 'Guide Dog', he falls victim to a series of absurd obstacles standing between him and success. The main strength of 'Guide Dog' is the dog himself, who plays up to the audience much more this time round with a series of terrific facial expressions that are reminiscent of Chuck Jones's classic 'Feed the Kitty'. In his good-natured but ultimately thwarted attempts to help, the dog character is also comparable with Chaplin's Little Tramp, always ending up walking dejectedly into the sunset at the end of the picture. Lively, fast-paced and unpredictable, 'Guide Dog' is a great sequel and helps to build the extremely lovable and sympathetic dog character into a latter-day cult animation star.
People who added this item 123 Average listal rating (77 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 8.1
DIR: Don Hertzfeldt

SUMMARY: A man called Bill must face up to his potential death when his mundane life is disrupted by an unspecified but potentially fatal condition.

WHY IT'S HERE: With 'The Meaning of Life', Don Hertzfeldt had taken a bold leap forward into experimental, non-narrative films. With 'Everything Will Be OK', he combined the lessons learned on that project with a more recognisable narrative structure to create the first part in what would eventually be his masterpiece. 'Everything Will Be OK' is the start of a trilogy of films about Bill, a simple, apparently rather dull man whose life is disrupted by an unspecified disorder which affects him both physically and mentally. Presenting scenes from Bill's everyday life in small, irregular shaped boxes of light against a dark backdrop, Hertzfeldt first builds up a picture of his routine and then draws us into the experience of his illness as the worsening mental effects cause numerous images and sounds to vie for his attention. While dramatically gripping and formally experimental, 'Everything Will Be OK' is also dryly hilarious. This is clear from the opening moments when Bill has an awkward encounter with a casual acquaintance and Hertzfeldt narrates it in minute detail. This narration continues throughout the film and its subsequent sequels, its carefully chosen phrases and inflections striking the perfect mood throughout. Immediately acclaimed as one of the greatest short films of its year, 'Everything Will Be OK' is only the beginning of an astonishing series which Hertzfeldt then strung together to create one of the finest animated features of all time.
DIR: Jonas Odell

SUMMARY: An animated documentary telling four stories of lost virginity.

WHY IT'S HERE: Jonas Odell's brilliant animated documentary 'Never Like the First Time!' uses a documentary soundtrack of real people recounting how they lost their virginity and interprets them through various styles of animation. The four stories range from comic to horrific and encapsulate the complexity and diversity of sex, other than the fact that they all refer to heterosexual encounters. The first tale, animated with appropriately cartoony characters, ends triumphantly but for the wrong reasons, as a sexual encounter between friends at a party becomes a victorious tool of one-upmanship to a competitive teen. The second story examines sex in a very methodical fashion, as two teenagers gradually work their way through the stages of foreplay across as series of Saturdays, before finally consummating and then ending the relationship. The third story tells of a drunken rape at the hands of an older stranger while the final tale is told by an elderly man looking back at a prudish era where the many lies told about sex clash with his tender, loving first experience. A lesser director would probably have placed the third story at the end of the film but Odell rightly places it third, allowing the final segment to portray sex in a more joyous, representative light. Fascinating throughout, 'Never Like the First Time!' gets a lot of mileage out of the pleasure of just listening to people talk but Odell's visual interpretations are perfectly chosen to accompany the words, from the faceless outlines of story number two to the harsh black sketches of the third and the softly attractive colours of the final piece.
People who added this item 1 Average listal rating (0 ratings) 0 IMDB Rating 7.2
DIR: Gitanjali Rao

SUMMARY: A lonely old woman and her cat escape daily drudgery by escaping in the colourful world of matchbox covers.

WHY IT'S HERE: Indian director Gitanjali Rao's gorgeous 'Printed Rainbow' is a labour of love dedicated to Rao's mother and her cat. Painted frame by frame over a period of three years, 'Printed Rainbow' contrasts the grey, mundane life of an old woman with the vibrant fantasy worlds she escapes into through staring at matchbox covers. Rao skilfully switches between the dull real world and the vivid colours of the fantasies, flooding the screen with life and then jarring us back into melancholic monotone at the sound of an intrusive doorbell or other such interruption. Ultimately touching on eastern philosophies of life and rebirth, 'Printed Rainbow's simple but thoughtful narrative is the perfect match for Rao's gorgeous art style.
People who added this item 6 Average listal rating (6 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 7.3
One Rat Short (2006)
DIR: Alex Weil

SUMMARY: A wild rat chasing a nearly empty bag of crisps floating in the wind stumbles across a hi-tech research facility where more rats are being used as test subjects.

WHY IT'S HERE: New York animator Alex Weil's 'One Rat Short' is one of the most technically accomplished CG animations I've ever seen. Following a simple but engaging story of a wild rat who inadvertently finds love in a research facility, 'One Rat Short' features extremely realistic rats as its only characters. Though not anthropomorphic, the rats are instantly easy to empathise with and the direction the story takes is ultimately a little heartbreaking. 'One Rat Short' is usually commended for its visuals over anything else but Weil (surely a surname that inspired him to use rats as characters) must also be congratulated for creating strong, identifiable characters without compromising the realistic designs.
People who added this item 23 Average listal rating (15 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.2
DIR: Regina Pessoa

SUMMARY: A young girl whose heart beats faster and louder than everyone else's is feared and ostracised by her community.

WHY IT'S HERE: Regina Pessoa's 'Tragic Story with Happy Ending' is the second in the director's trilogy about childhood, following on from 'A Noite'. Unlike that hauntingly realistic film, 'Tragic Story with Happy Ending' takes the form of a downbeat allegorical fairy tale in which a girl who is ostracised for her differences learns to see them as something that makes her special and is able to escape the mundane world that keeps others straitjacketed in apathy. Gorgeous to look at, the visuals were achieved by taking Pessoa's drawings and transferring them to glossy paper, brushing them with Indian ink, scratching them with a blade to give the effect of an engraving, then photographing them. The result is arresting and perfect for the content. When the happy ending finally comes, it is tempered by the juxtaposition of the disapproving masses and the soul-sucking routines they are left with.
People who added this item 60 Average listal rating (42 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.5
DIR: Torill Kove

SUMMARY: A narrator recounts how the history of a Danish poet indirectly lead to a crucial moment in her own personal history.

WHY IT'S HERE: It was great to see Torill Kove's 'The Danish Poet' win the Oscar for its year. I was a big fan of Kove's previous short, 'My Grandmother Ironed the King's Shirts', which shares the same simple but effective, bright cartoony style and sweet narration. 'The Danish Poet' is a love story which focuses on the little, trivial occurences that ultimately have a massive effect on our lives. It has a stronger story than Kove's previous charmer and seems altogether more confident, making it a fine choice for the Oscar. Although the simplicity of the style makes it instantly accessible to a wide audience, Kove's themes are fascinatingly complex, delving into the tangled web of seemingly unrelated events which ultimately mesh together to have a dramatic influence on our own lives.
People who added this item 409 Average listal rating (284 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.9
Lifted (2007)
DIR: Gary Rydstrom

SUMMARY: A nervous alien takes his human abduction exam.

WHY IT'S HERE: With 'Lifted', Pixar continued its run of top quality shorts. Audiences had obviously come to expect superb animation from the studio and 'Lifted' delivers in this respect, but it also epitomises Pixar's knack for coming up with unexpected subject matter. In this case, we watch an alien take an exam in abducting human beings, his amateurish button-jabbing causing the oblivious subject's sleeping body to be thrown around the room. Very funny and cleverly executed, 'Lifted' was paired with the brilliant 'Ratatouille' for cinema release, a hell of a double whammy. The short was the first film directed by Gary Rydstrom, although he was certainly no stranger to the film industry. As a highly respected sound designer, Rydstrom has been nominated for an Oscar seventeen times, winning seven. 'Lifted' added another nomination to his list when it was given the nod for Best Animated Short, although it lost to 'The Danish Poet'.
People who added this item 97 Average listal rating (65 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.6
DIR: Mike Thurmeier, Chris Renaud

SUMMARY: While trying to find a hiding place for his acorn, Scrat uncovers a frozen time machine which sends him on a quest through time to retrieve his beloved food.

WHY IT'S HERE: While I was never the biggest fan of the 'Ice Age' films, they do have a certain charm, much of which was derived from the supporting character of Scrat, a sabre-toothed squirrel-rat who spends the films chasing an elusive acorn. Although they dove-tailed with the main plot, Scrat's slapstick adventures mainly played out in parallel to the central action, making him the perfect character to spin off for his own theatrical shorts. The first of these, 'Gone Nutty', was a fairly predictable little piece but 'No Time for Nuts' improved upon it significantly by introducing the unexpected element of time travel. Time travel is a plot device milked to death by cartoons and 'No Time for Nuts' uses it in a fairly standard way, placing Scrat at the scene of various moments of historical importance and using our knowledge of the events for dramatic irony or just the laughter of recognition. But for all its clichés, 'No Time for Nuts' is a very entertaining short, executing its jokes with a fine comic timing and keeping the pace brisk at all times. The cruel final twist is also surprisingly dark. Like its predecessor, 'No Time for Nuts' was nominated for an Oscar and confirmed Scrat's potential as a stand-alone star. Oddly then, the next 'Ice Age' short chose to focus instead on the annoying Sid the Sloth, although the fourth short, 'Cosmic Scrat-tatstrophe' switched the focus back to the put-upon squirrel-rat.
People who added this item 138 Average listal rating (106 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 8
Kiwi! (2006)
DIR: Dony Permedi

SUMMARY: A kiwi goes to great lengths to achieve his dream.

WHY IT'S HERE: It's amazing how much of an impact one clever idea can have. Dony Permedi's Master's Thesis animation 'Kiwi!' is a three minute short which went ballistic on the internet for its skilful mix of moods. Some found it unbearably sad while others thought it was just a funny gag. I fall somewhere in between these two opinions. While there are elements of the tragic, 'Kiwi!' has the creeping inevitability of really good black comedy. Its appeal is in its simplicity, with the lovely rounded character design emerging as perfectly complimentary to the content. While there are undoubted themes for discussion, 'Kiwi!' must be one of the most overanalysed films to ever go viral and unofficial versions that paired the action with Tears for Fears 'Mad World' completely destroyed the duality, playing up the pathos in a way that was never intended. For all its mixed responses, 'Kiwi!' is a very clever little piece and lingers long in the mind after watching.
DIR: Sean McNally, Francisco Ruiz-Velasco

SUMMARY: Two suitors do battle over a buxom lady, although this is not the sort of gentleman's duel you may be expecting.

WHY IT'S HERE: The lesser-known Blur Studios created another amusing short in 2006 with 'A Gentleman's Duel', a somewhat crude but hilariously over-the-top cross between a costume drama and an action film. In this tale of testosterone-soaked one-upmanship, two suitors do battle in the grounds of a stately home, while the buxom object of their affections looks on and frequently gets clobbered herself. Though peppered with crass dialogue and oh-err-missus sex gags, 'A Gentleman's Duel' is also filled with great slapstick and expectation-confounding twists. Like Blur Studio's less adult-oriented 'Gopher Broke', 'A Gentleman's Duel' also ends with a seemingly outrageous punchline which is somewhat softened by post-credits revelations, but all in all it is a consistently enjoyable short played entirely for laughs which also happens to boast some very impressive visuals.
DIR: Adam Parrish King

SUMMARY: The owner of a local convenience store in the run down Cobble Hill neighbourhood of Brooklyn entrusts the keys to his store to high school student Felix.

WHY IT'S HERE: Adam Parrish King has worked mostly as a sound editor but in 2006 he released his self-penned animated film 'The Wraith of Cobble Hill'. This subtle, slow-paced and thoroughly engrossing fifteen minute film is a stop-motion urban drama shot in grainy black and white. The choice to shoot in black and white, as well as the rudimentary but appealingly retro appearance of the stop motion characters and the marvellously evocative sets, make 'The Wraith of Cobble Hill' one of the most atmospheric short animations of the 21st century. The voice acting, particularly that of Jonathan Sayres as Felix, is impressively naturalistic. Listen for that moment when he also says "shit" in front of Mr. H the store owner and quickly changes it to "stuff". Little details like this appear throughout the film, making it consistently enjoyable but ultimately it is the small, delicately crafted story that sets 'The Wraith of Cobble Hill' a notch above much of the competition. The final shot has enormous implications but does not spill over into moralising or overstate the difference the events have made for the character of Felix. A change has taken place but whether that will lead to a permanent change of character or further small changes in the future is left up to the audience to decide. King respects the viewer more than many directors and it's a shame this little gem never got the Oscar nomination it deserved.
People who added this item 21 Average listal rating (17 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.8
Game Over (2006)
DIR: Pes

SUMMARY: Classic arcade games are recreated using household items.

WHY IT'S HERE: By the time he made 'Game Over', PES fans knew the drill. What was incredible was how fresh he managed to keep each new film, despite using the same technique of creating recognisable scenes out of everyday items. For 'Game Over', PES creates scenes from five classic arcade games: Centipede, Frogger, Asteroids, Space Invaders and Pac-Man. Lovers of classic games will be delighted by the close attention to detail and these games are so iconic or else generically familiar that most viewers will recognise them. As usual for PES films, 'Game Over' doesn't outstay its welcome at barely a minute and a half long. This brevity it to the film's advantage however, and the temptation for many will be to click the play button again the minute it's over.
People who added this item 122 Average listal rating (65 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.6
DIR: Suzie Templeton

SUMMARY: An adaptation of Prokofiev's 'Peter and the Wolf', with a slightly darker mood and alternate ending.

WHY IT'S HERE: Following her short, disturbing duo of animated shorts 'Stanley' and 'Dog', Suzie Templeton made a film that is suitable for children while staying true to her unique vision. 'Peter and the Wolf' is the sort of film that used to be on TV a lot when I was young and to see this atmosphere recaptured and updated is an absolute delight. Templeton tells Prokofiev's story without dialogue. In fact, the opening minutes of the film are without music either, as Peter resides in a heavily fenced, safe but oppressive woodland dwelling. He longs to get out and play in the woods so, while his grandfather sleeps, he steals the key and escapes to freedom. In the film's most magical moment, Peter bursts through the gate and immediately we hear Prokofiev's unmistakable music strike up.

This introduction is key to the edge Templeton has added to the story. Peter is not an apple-cheeked, naïve urchin here but a strong-willed, disobedient boy whose moral ambiguity is betrayed by his haunted eyes, a trademark of Templeton's characters. The wolf, when it arrives in the narrative, is magnificent and the subsequent fight terrific, but Templeton was not convinced by Prokofiev's ending and instead adds a twist in which, seeing the captured wolf taunted by town bullies, Peter sets it free, a fitting action for this 21st century Peter. 'Peter and the Wolf' won a well-deserved Oscar for Best Animated Short and, at 32 minutes in length, is currently the longest film to win in this category.
People who added this item 18 Average listal rating (12 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.1
The Passenger (2006)
DIR: Chris Jones

SUMMARY: On a dark and stormy night, a bus passenger gets a lesson in etiquette from a goldfish.

WHY IT'S HERE: Chris Jones's 'The Passenger' is a great comedy-horror animation made entirely by Jones on his bedroom computer. Across eight years, Jones pumped all his time and savings into creating this seven minute film and the result is a delight. Combining an eerie atmosphere with a plot that manages to comment on both everyday irritations and monstrous overreactions with admirable balance, 'The Passenger' is filled with great moments and little jokes (my favourite being a gag involving the bus driver) and the soundtrack, also by Jones, is memorably intense. So, was it worth eight years for seven minutes of film? Well, in the case of 'The Passenger', absolutely.
People who added this item 9 Average listal rating (6 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.2
First Flight (2006)
DIR: Kyle Jefferson, Cameron Hood

SUMMARY: A fastidiously organised businessman has his perspective changed by an encounter with a fledgling bird at a bus stop.

WHY IT'S HERE: DreamWorks have always existed in the shadow of Pixar, with the company name often being used in a derogatory fashion. When Pixar released 'Brave', for instance, it was often denigrated as 'more like a DreamWorks film'. For all the weaker efforts DreamWorks have unleashed on the world however, let us not forget they have also given us the likes of 'How to Train Your Dragon', 'Kung Fu Panda' and the underrated 'Megamind'. Although they have never hit the heights of Pixar at its best then, DreamWorks are a studio I'm glad exist. The differing charm of DreamWorks is evident in 'First Flight', the only DreamWorks short animation not to be spun off from one of their features. This charming little film tells the story of a businessman who encounters a lost fledgling bird at a bus stop. At first annoyed by its presence, he quickly bonds with the bird and makes it his mission to help him fly. When the bus arrives however, he must make a decision about what is more important in life. In truth, 'First Flight' layers on the syrup with a trowel but it is so persistently upbeat and charming that it can't help but lift the spirits. In eschewing Pixar's more subtle approach, 'First Flight' emerges as an unashamedly emotional triumph and the rousing, clever final image challenges the viewer to put aside the eye-rolling and let themselves be hoisted aloft on the soaring music. It's a hard heart that can resist.
People who added this item 16 Average listal rating (13 ratings) 6 IMDB Rating 5.7
DIR: Michael Dudok de Wit

SUMMARY: A small brown dot journeys through a maze of contoured networks.

WHY IT'S HERE: Following his masterpiece 'Father and Daughter', Michael Dudok de Wit took a very different direction with his short abstract film 'The Aroma of Tea'. Unlike many abstract films, this one has the feel of a vague narrative as a small, brown dot quests through a series of tunnels and shapes to finally arrive at its desired destination. Set to the music of Arcangelo Corelli, which adds enormously to the film's effect, 'The Aroma of Tea' is a curiously relaxing watch, perhaps akin to putting your feet up for five minutes with a cup of tea. The colour of the shapes in the film obviously links to the title but it is not just the colour that links to a nice brew. Dudok de Wit actually used tea to create the images, meaning that the constant aroma of it would have been at the forefront of his mind. Like staring into the comforting swirl of an infusing cuppa, 'The Aroma of Tea' is something a bit different from on of the latter day masters of animation.
DIR: Joanna Quinn

SUMMARY: Beryl is asked to record her friend Mandy's wedding with her new video camera but is thwarted by her own grandiose visions.

WHY IT'S HERE: Joanna Quinn's most famous character Beryl has appeared in several of the animator's films, the best of which is 2006's 'Dreams and Desires: Family Ties'. A composite of several real life influences including Quinn's mother and a lady who used to work in her college refectory, Beryl is a terrifically uncouth, boisterous, determined and hilarious character. Having hooted her way through the performance of a male stripper in 'Girl's Night Out' and taken on the factory bully in 'Body Beautiful', Beryl is now tasked with filming her friend Mandy's wedding. The results are predictably disastrous but Quinn introduces a brilliant plot wrinkle in which Beryl's new camera has inspired a fascination with film theory. Having read up on various masters of the medium, Beryl tries to introduce a hint of Eisenstein to the proceedings, memorably skittling the congregation in her attempt at an ambitious tracking shot. Viewed entirely through the lens of Beryl's wavering camera (apart from a couple of dream sequences), 'Dreams and Desires: Family Ties' builds on the world Quinn established in the previous Beryl films, with an entire cast of convincingly obnoxious, flawed but basically sympathetic characters disgracing themselves publically.
People who added this item 6 Average listal rating (4 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 6.7
Tyger (2006)
DIR: Guilherme Marcondes

SUMMARY: A giant tiger appears in a city and begins to reveal the true nature of its inhabitants.

WHY IT'S HERE: Brazilian director Guilherme Marcondes' 'Tyger', partially inspired by the William Blake poem, is a mesmerizing piece of animation in which three puppeteers walk a giant tiger puppet through a city, whose animated inhabitants are slowly transformed into animal form. The idea of revealing bouncers to be apes or a stadium of football fans as swarming insects has been done before but Marcondes mixture of styles and the very concept of people's inner selves being unlocked by the unstoppable march of an immense tiger make 'Tyger' a ferociously original piece of work. Set to the pulsing, persistent music of Zeroum, 'Tyger' feels like a great music video but rather than draw attention to the music, it works with it to create a hypnotic short that holds audiences in thrall.
DIR: Tom Schroeder

SUMMARY: Three clowns vie for the spotlight while a female acrobat falls to the ground during her act.

WHY IT'S HERE: Tom Schroeder's 'The Mexican Cloud Swing Disaster' is a major departure from his previous calmly observational films. It focuses on a circus ring in which three clowns of varying appearance fight over the limelight, only partially aware that a female acrobat has fallen to the ground behind them. Schroeder works at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and enlisted some talented recent graduates to help with this film, which accounts for the wild, improvisatory nature which mirrors the discordant music by Erik Fratzke. As the act and the narrative spin out of control, the clowns stumble out of the circus ring into a cityscape, and then the ring itself comes to life to join in their cavorting. Very strange and experimental, 'The Mexican Cloud Swing Disaster' is all about energy and the viewing experience. Those looking for a coherent story will be disappointed but this is another fine work from Schroeder, displaying the impressive scope of his considerable talents.
DIR: Stevie Wermers, Kevin Deters

SUMMARY: Goofy attempts to hook up his excessive new home theatre in time for the big game.

WHY IT'S HERE: The classic 'How to' Goofy shorts were some of the funniest films Disney ever produced so when they wanted to test out their new paperless production technique to see if digital animation could produce a cartoon with the same graphic look as those produced in the 40s, the Goofy shorts seemed like the ideal format to update. Often focusing on aspects of modern life, the 'How to' series lends itself perfectly to modernisation, with Goofy (looking as young as ever) grappling with 21st century technology. About 50% of the project was produced with the paperless approach and it looks fantastic, capturing the spirit of classic Disney perfectly. Crucially though, the script also retains all the wit associated with these shorts and updates the concept without losing the spirit of the originals. While other throwbacks to classic theatrical cartoons (such as the Tom and Jerry short 'The Karate Guard') always felt like they were missing something, 'How to Hook Up Your Home Theater' comes across as a latter day classic.
People who added this item 81 Average listal rating (48 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.2
DIR: Maciek Szczerbowski, Chris Lavis

SUMMARY: Madame Tutli-Putli boards a night train where she becomes embroiled in a terrifying existentialist adventure.

WHY IT'S HERE: 'Madame Tutli-Putli', despite its whimsical title, is actually a dark and sometime frightening piece of work that balances its chills with a cryptic plot and some of the most beautiful visuals ever put on film. Directors Maciek Szczerbowski and Chris Lavis developed an impressive technique for bringing more emotional weight to their characters by asking real-life actors to perform the puppet's movements and then adding their expressive human eyes to the puppets. The result is haunting and exquisite, with Madame Tutli-Putli herself boasting a mesmerising gaze that draws the viewer in. The directors have also stated that the plot is deliberately confusing and meant to allow various interpretations to be projected upon it. This increases the film's impact and, for anyone who disagrees, the astonishing visuals are enough to hold the attention and capture the imagination alone.

As an animation fan, particularly of the animated short, I have found a disappointing dearth of literature on the medium. Having loved the '1001' series of books, I always hoped that maybe this rich source of filmmaking might be tapped into to produce a book collecting some of the essential animated shorts out there. Finally I thought 'Well, no-one else is going to do it' and decided to put together my own list. Although the complete list is already compiled (but subject to change should new notable animated shorts come out in the meantime), I have decided to publish it in chunks of 50, giving me time to write comments for each title, and so that anyone who wants to attempt watching all the films has time to do so. This is not meant to be a definitive list but a list of 1001 animated shorts that, whether for historical significance, innovation, artistic excellence or just sheer entertainment value, demand to be seen by all fans of this underrated and exceptional medium.

Part 17 covers the years 2004 - 2007 including: the growing popularity of internet animations such as 'Salad Fingers' and 'This Land'; Gaelle Denis brings her unique viewpoint to the world of animation and wins a BAFTA in the process; Bill Plympton tries something a bit different with 'The Fan and the Flower'; Don Hertzfeldt continues to grow into one of the greatest filmmakers of the 21st century with the experimental 'The Meaning of Life' and the first part of his Bill trilogy; 'The Karate Guard' and 'How to Hook Up Your Home Theater' pay homage to the golden age of theatrical animation; Suzie Templeton wins her Oscar for 'Peter and the Wolf'.

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