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There are very few ways to catch the numerous animated short films that are made each year but fortunately, whenever the Academy Awards draw near, the five films that are being honoured usually find their way into cinemas. And once again this year, the five nominees are all spectacular.

And the nominees for Best Animated Short Film are …


Bigger picture

This eight-minute stop motion animation piece about two brothers dealing with the imminent loss of their mother. They both deal with this loss in very different fashions and the animation itself is a different fashion all its own. From director, Daisy Jacobs, THE BIGGER PICTURE breaks down this complex family dynamic brilliantly while doing so quite dynamically. The creative flair allows us to get into each of the brothers’ heads in a very short amount of time and while the gestures are simple, the emotions are anything but. This might be because it reminded me of how I am with my brother but I suspect really anyone with a sibling will be able to relate and, even if you’ve never known that joy, you will still be delighted by it.


Dam Keeper

The longest of the animated short nominees is also the darkest, which says a lot when two of them deal with death. A young pig is responsible for a dam that protects his quaint, little town from the darkness. It was his father’s job but he is no longer there to do it and the brave pig goes to class every day despite being teased and tormented for, well being a dirty pig. One day, he meets a fox and it seems like his luck may actually change. What seems to be a reassuring tale to children everywhere about surviving bullying and teasing quickly becomes a very dark warning about what can happen when the wrong child, or in this case pig, is pushed past their breaking point. It is a gorgeous film and an excellent production but I personally found it a tad uneven in its message.



Disney has been on quite a roll in this category as of late. They won this award two years ago with the wonderfully romantic, THE PAPERMAN, and they snagged another nomination last year with the homage to their earlier work, GET A HORSE. The latter film was the favourite to win last year but ended up losing to a French film called MR. HUBLOT and so, even though their latest nominee in this field, FEAST, is a real charmer, I’m not sure Patrick Osborne’s film has the gravitas to take it with the competition it is facing. That said, it is an adorable film. Watching this ravenous puppy eat every piece of food he can get his mouth on juxtaposed against his master’s relationship progression is extremely simple but also very endearing. Here’s to hoping their streak continues!



At first, this National Film Board entry is exactly what I don’t care for from the NFB. The hand drawn animation is crude but pleasant enough; it’s the story and the pacing that I can’t get past. And then, somewhere in its 17-minute runtime, I do get past it and end up enjoying this tiny yarn. A young girl, the middle child in a group of three sisters growing up in Norway with two design obsessed architects for parents, tells us the story of the summer that they waited for their parents to buy them a bicycle. It seems aimless and pointless at first, as if there is no real reason for it to exist other than to tell its author, Torill Kove’s family history. And then it slowly transitions into a poignant tale about how every family is different and none is necessarily better than another. The smooth jazz score certainly helps.



This charming short film from directing team, Marieke Blaauw, Joris Oprins and Job Rogeveen, hailing from the Netherlands, runs less than three minutes but manages to capture perfectly just how precious life is and just how quickly it will disappear. A young lady receives a record in the mail entitled “A Single Life”  and puts it on to enjoy while she eats the pizza she has had delivered. When the record skips, she notices that her pizza slice has been almost entirely eaten without taking a single bite. She soon discovers that she can slow the record down, speed it up or play it at different parts to get a glimpse of where her life is headed. She neglects to think about what happens when the song finishes though. That said, who really thinks the song will eventually come to an end when we’re enjoying it as much as we are?

You can see all five Oscar nominated short animated films, as well as a selection of other highly regarded shorts from this year, at select theatres now, including TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto. For more information, visit

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