by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

Last week I had the rare treat of watching on the big screen the five 2011 Oscar nominated animated shorts, plus two of the short-listed nominees in one feature-length program, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed them.

Usually I prefer longer films because they allow me to lose myself completely in the story. But seeing several shorts together creates a neat contrast of styles and storytelling techniques that reinforces each other.

My favorite, The Lost Things is an adaptation of Shaun Tan’s children book of the same title I bought for my daughter a couple of years ago. I love the book and I loved the short. It’s a whimsical story about the bond between a boy and a strange object/machine he meets at the beach and his search for the place where it belongs. The illustrations are beautiful and fits the futuristic/dystopian atmosphere of the story perfectly.

If you have seen Toy Story-3 you probably saw Day and Night for it was the short that preceded it. It is a story told without words where day scenes and night scenes appear in the body of two, a blue and a dark, ghosts as they play with each other. No story really, just a cute reminders that deep down we all are the same or will be.

, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary) was very different. Watercolors, postcards, collages, and traditional animation were used to highlight the impressions of a French student’s visit to Madagascar.

In The Gruffalo, Helena Bonham Carter gives voice to a mother squirrel as she tells a story to her two children. Based on a children book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler and computer animated, it is cute if a little repetitive. And, in the tradition of the Aesop’s Fables, it comes with a morale: When in trouble use your imagination.

Let’s Pollute.
It’s a parody of the 50’s and 60’s educational films. In it, a voice over encourages us to pollute and tells us how to do so more efficiently. It even gives a list of things to do. The list is pretty funny but for the fact that my daughter checked on several. (i.e. turn on all the lights at once and never turn them off. And don’t reuse your clothes and shoes, just use new ones every day).

The extra shorts included Urs, a dark, silent tale of a son carrying his reluctant mother over the mountains in search of a better life. And The Cow Who Wanted to Be a Hamburger about the ‘evil’ power of advertising.

If you haven’t watched them, you may want to check your local theaters as they are being distributed in selected theaters via Shorts International and Magnolia Pictures, or watch their trailers–or full short when available–online by clicking the corresponding video above its review.
Hopefully you’ll enjoy them. Even if you don’t, they will give you an edge when predicting the winners at your office poll.
Good luck!