On the (Virtual) Road to Oscar Gold: 2020’s Short Film Contenders

***This dossier originally appeared in the February ’21 issue of Animation Magazine (No. 307). The Academy has yet to issue an official list — if you have an animated short that has qualified for consideration and does not appear below, email info@www.animationmagazine.net***

In a year of global tragedy, stress and uncertainty, advanced technology and dedicated cinephiles around the world joined forces to help animation lovers enjoy 2020’s crop of artistic, thought-provoking (or just plain entertaining) films. While most festivals were held online, their Academy Award-qualifying prizewinners have an IRL chance at one of film’s most prestigious animated short honors:

1. Altötting
Director: Andreas Hykade
Produced by: Thomas Meyer-Hermann, Abi Feijó, Marc Bertrand, Julie Roy
Qualifying Win: Cinanima Int’l Animated Film Festival Grand Prize
Synopsis: In the small Bavarian town of Altötting, a mother takes her young son to visit a nearby chapel. The boy becomes entranced by the Shrine of the Virgin Mary inside the chapel and begins daily pilgrimages to see his beloved Madonna. His love, devotion, and passion for her continue to grow, until one day his world is crushed by the devastating secret behind her eternal beauty.

2. And Then the Bear
Director: Agnès Patron
Produced by: Ron Dyens (Sacrebleu Productions)
Qualifying win: Aspen Shortsfest – Best Animation
Synopsis: When a boy’s close bond with his mother is imperiled one night by the arrival of a mysterious stranger, matters of nature and nurture collide.

L'Heure de l'Ours – Trailer from Sacrebleu Productions on Vimeo.

3. Any Instant Whatever
United States
Director: Michelle Brand
Qualifying Win: Raindance Film Festival – Best Animation Short
Synopsis: A man. In a room. In a film. This is simultaneously the becoming of something and becoming in itself. And nothing is as solid as we believe… Any Instant Whatever explores our perception of time, bodies and objects, and our innate inability to comprehend the full reality of things.

Any Instant Whatever from Michelle Brand on Vimeo.

4. The Beauty
Director: Pascal Schelbli
Produced by: Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg
Qualifying Win: Student Academy Award – Animation (Int’l) Gold Medal
Synopsis: What if plastic could be integrated into sea life? Take a deep breath and dive into a world, where feelings of guilt dissolve amongst the mysterious depths of the ocean. A world where we encounter bizarre creatures and discover eerily beautiful landscapes. Unfortunately, our air doesn’t last forever and we have to realize that nature alone can’t solve this issue.
Read more

The beauty by Pascal Schelbli Switzerland from KYKLOS on Vimeo.

5. Ciervo
United States
Director: Pilar Garcia-Fernandezsesma
Produced by: Rhode Island School of Design
Qualifying Win: Student Academy Award – Animation (Domestic) Gold Medal
Synopsis: An emotionally haunting and visually beautiful experience, Ciervo tells the story of a young girl who holds violence, submission and independence in an uneasy balance as one morphs into the other.

Ciervo Trailer from Pilar Garcia-Fernandezsesma on Vimeo.

6. The Coin
Director: Siqi Song
Produced by: Film Independent
Qualifying Win: Chilemonos Int’l Animation Festival – Best Int’l Animation Short Film
Synopsis: A young woman loses a jar on her journey to a new country, which contains the lucky coins she has been collecting growing up. Her life in a new country begins with a search to find the coin.

硬币/The Coin from Siqi Song on Vimeo.

7. Cosmic Fling
United States
Director: Jonathan Langager
Produced by: Christian Hall & Sam Koji Hale
Qualifying win: Santa Barbara Int’l Film Festival – Bruce Corwin Award Best Animation Short Film
Synopsis: Cosmic Fling is the tale of Stan, an intergalactic garbage man who lives alone on an asteroid. To feed himself, he harpoons space debris and converts it into nourishment. To feed his soul, he dreams only of love. One day, he spots Beatrice, a fellow astronaut stranded on a passing comet. He falls instantly in love … but must wait for her comet to return. In order to be with her, he will need to resort to extreme measures.

8. The Cubicbird
Director: Jorge Alberto Vega
Produced by: Marcos Mas, Ángela Revelo
Qualifying Win: Bogoshorts – Best Animation Short Film National Competition
Synopsis: Pedro is a bird who grew up in a birdcage. When he was one year old he had a dream of an owl, who told him to grow strong and break free. Pedro eats and eats, and starts to fill out the whole cage, he pushes it and breaks it up, but its shape forms him into the first cubic bird.

PájaroCubo – Trailer from La Valiente Estudio on Vimeo.

9. A Dark Day of Injustice
Director: Daniela Fiore
Qualifying Win: Chilemonos Int’l Animation Festival – Best Latin American Animated Short Film
Synopsis: Describing the last day of the life of writer Rodolfo Walsh, where he was captured and killed by ESMA under the Argentinian Dictatorship.

10. The Fabric of You
United Kingdom
Director: Josephine Lohoar Self
Produced by: Holly Daniel, Calum Hart, Ross McKenzie, Carolynne Sinclair Kidd, Reetta Tihinen, Paul Welsh
Qualifying Win: Palm Springs Int’l ShortFest – Best Animation Short
Synopsis: Unable to show his true identity, Michael, a grieving tailor mouse, recounts and reckons with the memories of a past lover.
Read more

The Fabric of You extract from Josephine Lohoar Self on Vimeo.

11. Freeze Frame
Director: Soetkin Verstegen
Produced by: Akademie Schloss Solitude, Soetkin Verstegen
Qualifying Win: Ann Arbor Film Festival – Chris Frayne Award for Best Animated Film
Synopsis: Freeze frame: the most absurd technique since the invention of the moving image. Through an elaborate process of duplicating the same image over and over again, it creates the illusion of stillness.

Freeze frame from Soetkin Verstegen on Vimeo.

12. Friends
Director: Florian Grolig
Qualifying win: Tribeca Film Festival – Best Animated Short
Synopsis: The “small” one is, well, small, and the “big” one is definitely very big. They are friends.

Friends Trailer from Florian Grolig on Vimeo.

13. Genius Loci
Director: Adrien Merigeau
Produced by: Amaury Ovise
Qualifying wins: Go Short – Best European Short Animation, Bucheon Int’l Animation Festival Grand Prize, Vienna Shorts – ASIFA Austria Award
Synopsis: One night, Reine, a young loner, sees the urban chaos as a mystical oneness that seems alive, like some sort of guide.

Genius Loci Teaser from adrien merigeau on Vimeo.

14. Giant Bear
Directors: Neil Christopher & Daniel Gies
Produced by: Neil Christopher, Emily Paige
Qualifying Win: Canadian Screen Awards – Best Animated Short
Synopsis: Giant Bear follows a hunter in the depths of starvation.The snow is thick, his dogs are mysteriously dying and food is nowhere to be found. A quest for answers leads him straight to a nanurluk, an iceberg-sized polar bear, setting up a kill or be killed battle that pits one man’s wits against a fearsome foe.

ᓇᓄᕐᓗᒃ (Giant Bear) Teaser from Taqqut Productions on Vimeo.

15. GNT
Director: Sara Hirner & Rosemary Vasquez-Brown
Qualifying Win: Sydney Film Festival – Yoram Gross Animation Award
Synopsis: Glenn is a woman on an unwholesome mission, but just how far will she go to conquer the clique- and social media at large?


16. Grab My Hand: A Letter to My Dad
United States
Directors: Camrus Johnson & Pedro Piccinini
Qualifying Wins: New York Int’l Children’s Film Festival – Best Animated Short, Chicago Int’l Children’s Film Festival – Professional Jury First Place Animated Short
Synopsis: A retelling of his dad’s relationship with his best friend, Grab My Hand is Camrus Johnson’s gift to his grieving father and a message to all to cherish every second you have with the ones you love while you still can.

Grab My Hand Trailer (Full HD) from MoonJellyPictures on Vimeo.

17. Grandad Was a Romantic
United Kingdom
Director: Maryam Mohajer
Qualifying Win: BAFTA for Best British Short Animation
Synopsis: My granddad was a romantic. He once saw a picture of my granny and realized that she was the love of his life, until one day he decided to go meet my granny.
Read more

Grandad was a romantic. Trailer from maryam mohajer on Vimeo.

18. Hamsa
United States
Directors: Daniela Dwek, Maya Mendonca & Chrisy Baek
Qualifying Win: Student Academy Award – Animation (Domestic) Bronze Medal
Synopsis: A young Israeli girl is oblivious to the historical conflict she lives in. On a trip to the market, her mother reinforces her fear of “the other.” However, when chaos strikes she finds that the people she was once afraid of are not so bad.

HAMSA from Hamsa Thesis on Vimeo.

19. Have a Nice Dog!
Director: Jalal Maghout
Produced by: Karsten Matern Filmproduktion
Qualifying Win: Uppsala Int’l Short Film Festival – Int’l Competition Grand Prix
Synopsis: In Damascus, surrounded by war, an isolated man becomes increasingly lost in fantasies of escaping and the inner dialogues with his dog.

Have a Nice Dog! | Official Trailer from Jalal Maghout on Vimeo.

20. A Home for the Brave
Direction: Hugo Crosthwaite
Produced by: Hugo Crosthwaite, Theresa Magario
Qualifying Win: Morelia Int’l Film Festival – Best Animated Short Film
Synopsis: A stop-motion animation that tells the story of a Mexican migrant family crossing the border into the United States.

A Home for the Brave
A Home for the Brave

21. Homeless Home
France, Spain
Director: Alberto Vázquez
Produced by: Nicolas Schmerkin (Autour de Minuit) & Iván Minambres (UniKo Estudio Creativo)
Qualifying Win: Annecy Jury Award
Synopsis: No one can escape their roots, however rotten they may be.

22. If Anything Happens I Love You
United States
Directors: Michael Govier & Will McCormack
Produced by: Gary Gilbert, Gerald Chamales
Qualifying Win: Edmonton Int’l Film Festival – Animated Short FIlm Award
Synopsis: An extraordinary emotional journey of two parents struggling to overcome the hurt left by a tragic event that leaves their family changed forever. The film juxtaposes the excruciating pain one can feel as well as the resilience of the human spirit.
Watch on Netflix

Read more

23. I’m Here
Director: Julia Orlik
Produced by: Agata Golanska
Qualifying Win: Dok Leipzig – Golden Dove for Int’l Short Animation
Synopsis: She is the center of attention, but exhausted by life. An old woman in her final days, bedridden and too weak to speak to her husband and daughter. Her selfhood fades away while in the care of her relatives, who have problems of their own.

24. Just a Guy
Director: Shoko Hara
Produced by: Studio Sefz
Qualifying Win: Animafest Zagreb Grand Prix
Synopsis: Three women contemplate their relationship with convicted serial killer Richard Ramirez.

Just a Guy – Trailer from Studio Seufz on Vimeo.

25. Kapaemahu
United States
Director: Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer, Joe Wilson
Produced by: Dean Hamer, Joe Wilson, Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu
Qualifying Wins: Atlanta Film Festival – Best Animated Short Film, Animayo – Grand Jury Prize, Bengaluru Int’l Short Film Festival – Best Animated Short, Nashville Film Festival – Best Animated Short, Foyle Film Festival – Best Animated Short Film
Synopsis: Kapaemahu reveals the healing power of four mysterious stones on Waikiki Beach — and the legendary transgender spirits within them.

26. The Kite
Czech Republic / Slovakia / Romania
Director: Martin Smatana
Produced by: Bfilm
Qualifying win: Austin Film Festival – Animated Short Jury Award 2019
Synopsis: Late in the summer, Grandpa gives his grandson a kite. By autumn, the old man has grown frail and thin. A strong wind blows him away. In springtime, they meet again.

THE KITE – trailer from BFILM on Vimeo.

27. KKUM
Director: Kim Kang-min
Produced by: Open the Portal, Studio Zazac
Qualifying Win: Ottawa Int’l Animation Festival – Nelvana Grand Prize for Independent Short
Synopsis: My mother’s dreams have always been strong premonitions for important moments in my life. I rely on her dreams more than any religion.
Read more

꿈 KKUM – trailer from KANG MIN KIM on Vimeo.

28. Lal
Director: Gökalp Gönen
Qualifying Win: Izmir Int’l Short Film Festival – Best Nat’l Short Animation
Synopsis: Born with a word from nothing, the creature must eat one of its own in order to survive. Even though this word the creature manages to utter brings it to friends, enemies and new prey, it is difficult to establish the balance. The big fight is inevitable and it will take a long time to get back to the beginning.

Lal Trailer from Gökalp Gönen on Vimeo.

29. Little Hilly
Director: Yun-Sian Huang
Produced by: Chun Wei Hsieh Yan-Jie Wu
Qualifying win: LA Shorts Fest – Best Animation
Synopsis: Hilly is a 10-year-old silent Taiwanese girl, nobody was concerned about her depression and the pressure she suffered from everyday life. Hilly hates that she always oppresses herself, and also hates the world controlled by adults. What does Hilly really want to speak out to the adults?

30. The Little Soul
Director: Barbara Rupik
Produced by: National Film School in Łódź
Qualifying win: Slamdance Film Festival – Jury Award for Best Animation Short
Synopsis: A dead body became stuck by a river bank. Its decaying insides still hide a human soul — a miniature of the deceased. Rotting organs part and a tiny creature gets out. Standing on the river bank, it says goodbye to the corpse and sets off on a journey through the post-mortem land.

Duszyczka // The Little Soul // trailer from Barbara Rupik on Vimeo.

31. Loop
United States
Director: Erica Milsom
Produced by: Krissy Cababa and Michael Warch; Pixar Animation Studios
Qualifying Win: SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival – Best in Show
Synopsis: A non-verbal, autistic girl and a chatty boy are partnered on a canoeing trip. To complete their journey across an urban lake, they must both learn how the other experiences the world.
Watch on Disney+

32. Madrid 2120
Director: José Luís Quirós, Paco Sáez
Produced by: Nicolas Matji
Qualifying Win: Goya Best Animated Short Film
Synopsis: In the year 2120, life in Madrid is divided by class and elevation. Nitrogreen, a highly unstable liquid capable of generating Instant Vegetation, is the most valuable contraband merchandise. After a smuggling operation gone wrong, an anonymous taxi driver faces the most important decision of his life: Settle on his level, or risk his life to get to the top.

Trailer Madrid 2120 from Lightbox Academy on Vimeo.

33. Matches
Director: Géza M. Tóth
Qualifying win: Light in Motion Award for Best Animated Short Film at the Foyle Film Festival (2019)
Synopsis: Children’s fantasy is endless and capable of seeing something more in a simple object. We can catch their thoughts while they’re playing. The short is inspired by an interview with a seven-year-old child, who shares his honest and innocent thoughts. Finding joy and wonder in playing with colorful matchsticks, the young boy’s imagination becomes visible, while he complains about grownup rules and talks about his dreams, fears and hopes. His philosophy of life is portrayed with creativity and playfulness by bringing the most simple object to life.

Matches – trailer from KEDD Animation Studio on Vimeo.

34. Mime Your Manners
United States
Directors: Kate Namowicz & Skyler Porras
Produced by: Ringling College of Art & Design
Qualifying Win: Student Academy Award – Animation (Domestic) Silver Medal
Synopsis: An arrogant man named Julian is transformed into a mime. Given a taste of his own medicine, he must grow to be a better person to be freed.
Watch on Vimeo

Mime Your Manners
Mime Your Manners

35. My Galactic Twin Galaction
Director: Sasha Svirsky
Produced by: Alexander Gerasimov
Qualifying Win: In The Place Int’l Short Film Festival – Best Animation Int’l Competition
Synopsis: One day he receives an email that looks like spam: there is apparently trouble in a neighbouring galaxy that will soon threaten his own. His galactic twin, Galaction, asks him for help in the struggle against evil. Thus begins a boldly colourful adventure in which good and evil, utopia and dystopia, narrative and post-narrative compete to entertain the audience.

My Galactic Twin Galaction – Trailer / Мой галактический двойник Галактион – Трейлер from Sasha Svirsky on Vimeo.

36. My Generation
Director: Ludovic Houplain
Produced by: Ludovic Houplain, Mirwaïs Ahmadzaï
Qualifying Win: Cleveland Int’l Film Festival – Best Animated Short
Synopsis: Disney’s big boss, Bob Iger, said, “Hitler would have loved social media.” He would have felt at ease in our time of soft totalitarianism (less and less soft actually). What if we put down our smartphones and opened our eyes wide shut? It is ironic that it should be an animated film which reveals the truth of a lobotomized society with the need for intensive care.

37. The Natural Death of a Mouse
Director: Katharina Huber
Produced by: Katharina Huber, Quimu Casalprim
Qualifying win: German Short Film Award – Animated Films 1-30 min.
Synopsis: Some days she imagines that by her sheer will she can make body parts fall off of people who seem vicious to her. And some other days everyone around her looks beautiful. And when she was little, she wished that flowers would grow out of her footprints

The Natural Death of a Mouse – TRAILER 2020 from Katharina Huber on Vimeo.

38. Night of the Plastic Bags
Director: Gabriel Harel
Produced by: Amaury Ovise
Qualifying win: César Award – Best Animated Short Film, Odense Int’l Film Festival Animation Competition
Synopsis: Agathe, 39 years old, has only one obsession: having a child. It’s decided: she will find her ex boyfriend, Marc-Antoine, who works as a DJ in Marseille. As she tries to convince him to get back together, plastic bags come to life and attack the city.

The Night of the Plastic Bags / La Nuit des sacs plastiques (2018) – Trailer from UniFrance on Vimeo.

39. o28
Directors: Otalia Caussé, Geoffroy Collin, Louise Grardel, Antoine Marchand, Robin Merle & Rabien Meyran
Produced by: Rubika
Qualifying Win: Hollyshorts Film Festival – Best Short Animation
Synopsis: In Lisbon, a german married couple is about to get aboard the legendary No. 28 tramway, but how should you react when the brakes let go and embark you on a vertiginous race with a baby on board.

o28 – Trailer from o28 on Vimeo.

40. The Opposites Game
United States
Directors: Lisa LaBracio & Anna Samo
Qualifying Win: Florida Film Festival – Best Animated Short
Synopsis: A classroom erupts into a war of words as students grapple with a seemingly simple prompt: what is the opposite of a gun?

The Opposites Game from Lisa LaBracio on Vimeo.

41. Orgiastic Hyper-Plastic
Denmark / U.K.
Director: Paul Bush
Produced by: Lana Tankosa Nikolic (Late Love Prod.) and Paul Bush (Ancient Mariner Prod.)
Qualifying Win: Odense Int’l Film Festival – Børge Ring Award for Best Animated Film
Synopsis: An elegy to a love affair that has gone sour, a fond farewell to that most beautiful material that has subjugated our planet – plastic.

Orgiastic Hyper-PlasticTeaser from paul bush on Vimeo.

42. Petty Thing
Director: Li Zexi
Qualifying win: Riverrun Int’l Film Festival – Best Animated Short
Synopsis: The summer afternoon was nothing special, until the kids in the village, playing war games, found a replica pistol. As the trigger was pulled, the whole forest was awakened.

《小事》预告/the trailer of PETTY THING from 李泽熙 on Vimeo.

43. Precious
Director: Paul Mas
Produced by: Je Suis Bien Content
Qualifying Win: Black Nights Film Festival – POFF Shorts Grand Prix Animation
Synopsis: Julie doesn’t manage to fit in at her school. The arrival of Émile, an autistic child, will change all that.


44. Purpleboy
Director: Alexandre Siqueira
Produced by: Rodrigo Areias, Mickael Carton, Serge Kestemont, Thierry Zamparut
Qualifying Win: Anima – Best Int’l Short Film, Rhode Island Int’l Film Festival – Best Animated Short
Synopsis: Oscar is a child who sprouts in his parents garden. Nobody knows his biological sex but he claims the masculine gender. One day Oscar lives an extraordinary but painful adventure in an authoritarian and oppressive world. Will he manage to have the identity recognition he desires so much?


45. Red Rover
United Kingdom
Director: Astrid Goldsmith
Produced by: Hank Starrs; Mock Duck Studios
Qualifying Win: Sitges Int’l Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia – Best Animated Short Film
Synopsis: When a robotic rover is sent from Earth to drill for signs of life on Mars, it threatens the lives of the planet’s tiny native rock creatures.

Red Rover
Red Rover

46. Something to Remember
Director: Niki Lindroth von Bahr
Produced by: Malade A.B., Kalle Wettre
Qualifying Wins: Guanajuato Int’l Film Festival – Best Short Animation, Animator Grand Jury Prize – Golden Pegasus, Leeds Int’l Film Festival – World Animation Award
Synopsis: A lullaby before the great disaster. Two pigeons visit a zoo without animals, a snail measures his blood pressure at the doctor, in the CERN laboratory something has gone terribly wrong.

Something to Remember
Something to Remember

47. Song Sparrow
Denmark / Iran
Director: Farzaneh Omidvarnia
Qualifying Win: Lebu Int’l Film Festival – Best Int’l Animation
Synopsis: A group of refugees tries to reach themselves to a safe country in search for a better life. They pay a smuggler to convey them across the borders in a refrigerated truck. However, the freezing temperature of the truck turns their hopes for a better future into a fierce struggle for survival.

Song Sparrow Trailer from Farzaneh Omidvarnia on Vimeo.

48. Symbiosis
France / Hungary
Director: Nadja Andrasev
Produced by: Emmanuel-Alain Raynal, Pierre Baussaron, József Fulop, Orsolya Sipsos
Qualifying Win: SXSW Film Festival – Animated Short Award
Synopsis: A betrayed wife starts to investigate her husband’s mistresses. Her jealousy is gradually replaced by curiosity.

49. Tie
Portugal / France
Director: Alexandra Ramires
Qualifying win: Chicago Intl’ FIlm Festival – Gold Hugo Animated Short Film
Synopsis: Two characters search for missing pieces of themselves in a gloomy, surreal landscape.

ELO _ TIE TRAILER from BAP – Animation Studio on Vimeo.

50. Tiger and Ox
South Korea
Director: Seung-hee Kim
Qualifying win: AFI Fest – Grand Jury Award for Animation
Synopsis: What does divorce mean to women in Korean patriarchal society? Is a fatherless family a failure? In order to find the answer to these questions, a single mother and her daughter start a conversation.

Tiger and Ox – Trailer from Seunghee Kim on Vimeo.

51. The Tiger Who Came to Tea
United Kingdom
Director: Robin Shaw
Produced by: Camilla Deakin, Ruth Fielding; Lupus Films
Qualifying win: Encounters Film Festival – Animated Encounters Grand Prix
Synopsis: A mysterious tiger turns up unannounced and invites himself in for afternoon tea with a young girl and her mother.

52. To the Dusty Sea
Director: Héloïse Ferlay
Produced by: EnsAD
Qualifying Wins: Austin Film Festival – Animated Short Jury Award 2020, St. Louis International Film Festival – Best Animated Short
Synopsis: Left alone in the deepest of the summer, Malo and Zoe are trying their best to catch their mother’s elusive eye.

53. The Torture Letters
United States
Director: Laurence Ralph
Produced by: Laurence Ralph, Adam Ellick
Qualifying Win: SPARK Animation – Best in Show
Synopsis: One of Laurence Ralph’s first memories of the police is when a plainclothes officer harassed his family. Now a Princeton anthropology professor, Ralph traces his story to the entrenched practices of torture by the Chicago Police.

The Torture Letters from The New York Times on Vimeo.

54. Tot
Directors: Tom Getty, Aimée Kirkham Priester & Fiona McLaughlin
Produced by: Fiona McLaughlin, Tom Getty
Qualifying Win: Galway Film Fleadh – James Horgan Award for the Best Animation
Synopsis: After the death of her father, Tot roams through a mystical world carrying her grief with her as she searches for closure.

TOT Trailer from TAUNT on Vimeo.

55. Traces
Directors: Hugo Frassetto & Sophie Tavert Macian
Produced by: Arnaud Demuynck; Les Films du Nord
Qualifying Win: Hamptons Film: Indy Shorts Int’l Film Festival – Best Animated Short
Synopsis: Thirty-six thousand years ago, in the Ardèche river gorge, when an animal was painted, it was hunted. When it is again time to go hunting and painting, Gwel is appointed head of the group of hunters while Karou the painter and his apprentice Lani set off to paint the walls of the great cavern. But they hadn’t counted on meeting a cave lion.

TRACES – Extrait from Les Films du Nord on Vimeo.

56. Umbilical
United States
Director: Danski Tang
Qualifying Win: New Orleans Film Festival – Best Animated Short
Synopsis: An animated documentary exploring how a mother’s abusive relationship shaped the director’s own experiences in boarding school.

Trailer_Umbilical from Danski Tang on Vimeo.

57. The White Whale
Director: Amir Mehran
Qualifying Win: Warsaw Film Festival – Best Animated Short Film
Synopsis: Long years ago, a young man has lost his friends in an air attack on a big river. After 30 years, he is looking for their remains. A white whale is the only sign he has.

The White Whale Trailer from AmirMehran on Vimeo.

58. Yo
Director: Begoña Arostegui
Produced by: Fernando Franco
Qualifying win: ALCINE – National Short Film
Synopsis: For our protagonist, every day looks a bit alike. Or, rather, they are too much alike: the same routines are repeated over and over again with appalling monotony. However, something as simple as a sign that says “Park” is going to change everything.

YO_TRAILER from fernando franco / ferdydurke on Vimeo.

59. Your Own Bullshit
Director: Daria Kopiec
Produced by: Ewa Jastrzębska, Jerzy Kapuściński (Munk Studio – Polish Filmmakers Association), Justyna Rucińska (Likaon Sp. z o.o)
Qualifying Win: Krakow Silver Dragon for Best Short Animated Film
Synopsis: Do family meetings always need to look like that? The father tells the son to find a good job and get married, the mother wants him only to be happy. The same platitudes repeated for years are like a tangled cassette tape — sometimes they make him choke, sometimes his ears bleed. Combining different animation styles, film genres and references to culture, this production is not only a caricature of a family dinner, but a satire on life in the shadow of social expectations. It is a drama in three acts: two dishes and a dessert – topped with a religious sauce, spiced with choral singing and served on grotesque tableware.

Your Own Bullshit, dir. Daria Kopiec – trailer from Studio Munka on Vimeo.

High Profile Contenders

60. Burrow (Pixar Animation Studios) A young rabbit sets out to dig the burrow of her dreams — despite not having a clue what she’s doing. After hitting (bed)rock bottom, she learns there is no shame in asking for help. Two-time Annie nominated artist Madeline Sharafian directed this SparkShorts project, produced by Mike Capbarat. The short was originally set to open in theaters in front of Soul.
Watch on Disney+
Read more


61. Canvas (Netflix) Directed by Frank E. Abney III, the film blends 2D and CG sequences to tell the story of a grandfather who, after suffering a devastating loss, is sent into a downward spiral and loses his inspiration to create. Years later, he decides to revisit the easel, and pick up the paint brush … but he can’t do it alone. Produced by Paige Johnstone.
Watch on Netflix
Read more

62. Cops and Robbers (Netflix) Based on a poem written and performed by director Timothy Ware-Hill in response to the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, this production called on artists, students and studios around the world to create 30 unique visual interpretations of its segments. Ware-Hill and fellow director Arnon Manor deliver a powerful message about ongoing systemic violence against Black Americans. Produced by Lawrence Bender.
Watch on Netflix
Read more

63. Float (Pixar Animation Studios) Writer/director Bobby Rubio’s 2019 SparkShort explores familial acceptance through a father who discovers his son has the power to float in the air. To keep them both safe from judgement, Dad covers him and keeps him out of sight — but when his son’s ability becomes public, Dad must decide whether to run and hide or to accept his son as he is. Produced by Krissy Cababa, the short has been well received for its touching story and representation of Filipino-American characters.
Watch on Disney+


64. Lost & Crowned (Psyop) Inspired by Supercell’s “Clash” mobile games universe, Spanish writer-director Borja Peña Gorostegui’s tale of two skeleton brothers caught up in mad enchanted castle caper reminiscent of kid adventure classics like The Goonies racked up over 100 million views across all platforms in its first two months. Psyop’s Amanda Miller produced the finely crafted CG short.

65. Minor Accident of War (ww2shortfilm.com) This animated take on a true event centers on an event in the life of Lt. Edward Field, a navigator in the 8th Air Force during WWII, whose B-17 was shot down and crashed in the North sea in the dead of winter. Hanging on to one of the two rafts in the freezing cold water, a decision was made that to this day has affected Field, who is now 96 years old. The short was produced by his niece, Diane Fredel-Weis, who co-directed with animator Piotr Kabat. Winner of Best Animated Doc Award at the L.A. Animation Festival and Best Animated Film at the Big Apple Film Festival.

66. My Life in Versailles (Films Grand Huit/Miyu) Written by Clémence Madeleine-Perdrillat and directed by Nathaniel H’Limi & Clémence Madeleine-Perdrillat, this French TV special centers on a little orphaned girl who has trouble adjusting when she goes to live with her uncle, a caretaker at the Palace of Versailles. The family-friendly film has been well received in festivals around the world, scoring wins at Annecy (2019 Jury Prize for TV Special), Stuttgart (Tricks for Kids Award) and three awards at this year’s New York Int’l Children’s Film Festival, among others.

La vie de château (My life in Versailles) – TEASER from Films Grand Huit on Vimeo.

67. Once Upon a Snowman (Walt Disney Animation Studios) Discover the origins of Elsa and Anna’s heartwarming, ice-cold buddy Olaf as he magically comes to life and steps out to search for his identity in the snowy mountains outside Arendelle. Directed by Frozen II‘s Trent Correy (Olaf’s animation supervisor) and Dan Abraham (story artist), produced by Nicole Hearon and Peter Del Vecho.

68. The Snail and the Whale (Magic Light Pictures) Max Lang and Daniel Snaddon’s latest adaptation of children’s book maestros Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler follows a tiny snail (Sally Hawkins) who hitches a ride on a humpback whale (Rob Brydon) for an incredible journey, narrated by Diana Rigg. Produced by Martin Pope and Michael Rose.
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69. To: Gerard (DreamWorks Animation) Selected for a Tribeca Film Festival premiere, Taylor Meacham’s directorial debut is a CG animated love letter to his father which tells a heartfelt story about how life’s greatest magic is inspiring someone else to follow their dreams … even if you haven’t achieved your own. Produced by Jeff Hermann, the short features character designs by four-time Annie-winning artist Nico Marlet.
Watch on Peacock

70. Umbrella (Stratostorm) Brazilian filmmakers Helena Hilario & Mario Pece directed this widely acclaimed short, based on a true story that happened to Hilario’s sister. An orphan who dreams of having a yellow umbrella unexpectedly meets a little girl who awakens memories of his past. Umbrella was selected for ShortsTV’s “Best of the Rest” 2020 screening and 19 Oscar-qualifying festivals.

UMBRELLA | Official Trailer from Stratostorm on Vimeo.

— Compiled by Mercedes Milligan and Samantha Shanman



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