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February 8, 2016
Review: 2016 Oscar Nominated Short Films – Animation

The 2016 Oscar Nominated Animated Short Films are focused on the human condition, the experiences, and emotions that fill our lives, from joy to tragedy, success to failure,and mortality. The five films work wonderfully together and create an emotional and intellectual landscape that is both challenging, and satisfying.

Sanjay’s Super Team

Inspired by the childhood of director Sanjay Patel, Sanjay’s Super Team tells the story of a first generation immigrant son, faced with the conflict of having to choose between his American culture, and the Indian culture of his father. In the end, all it takes is Sanjay’s imagination to help him see that the Hindu gods of Vishnu, Durga, and Hanuman, can be just as exciting as the superhero cartoons he watches on television. A story that preaches the importance of family, and within that, the importance of compromise, it's incredibly heartwarming and the CGI animation, with action sequences that are visually stunning.

Bear Story

What stuck out about Bear Story, directed by Chilean filmmaker Gabriel Osorio, was the animation’s incredible attention to detail. The film tells of a bear who uses a mechanical diorama to share the story of his oppressed life to one passing cub at a time. Osorio used several tactics during production to achieve their beautiful style of animation. The team made a clay model of the bear and scanned it into a computer to maintain a handmade essence within the digital final product, paying homage to the process, and history, of animation. An allegory of the oppression Chileans endured under the rule of dictator Augusto Pinochet, the film’s protagonist was inspired by Osorio’s grandfather who was forced to flee to England.

We Can’t Live Without Cosmos

This Russian film tells the story of two best friends who grew up together sharing the same dream; to become astronauts and go to space. The film follows their training, their friendship, and the eventual decision that splits them apart – one of the men is sent to space, while the other is kept back on earth to serve as the backup astronaut. This wonderful story tells the importance of friendship when trying to achieve your dreams, even when you have to go at it on your own.


World Of Tomorrow is unquestionably the most imaginative film of the 2016 crop of nominees. Directed by Don Hertzfeldt, the science fiction film tells the story of  Emily, a young girl living in the distant future, who is contacted by an adult clone of herself. The grown up Emily tells younger Emily of the many psychological and existential pitfalls of future life, and what it means to be the clone of “Emily Prime”. It seems that while Emily Prime’s life is filled with happiness and wonder, Emily Clone’s life is filled with false love, doubt about the future, and profound melancholy. The film features that animation influenced by 50s and 60s science fiction novel and magazine covers.


This hand-drawn film introduces us to a little girl who watching four men, two Spartans and two Athenians, as they fight over unknown spoils. The likeness of each man pulsates and moves with each frame, giving the men an incredible sense of life, making their deaths all the more gruesome. The tragic story is over as quickly as it begins, and with very little sense of time, or space, the filmmaker is telling us that violence has existed since man has existed, and it will continue to exist as long as we walk the earth.

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Written by: Jonathan Sherman
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