There was a time in the not-so-distant past when every movie began with a brief animated short. Those long-ago cartoons provided the foundation for Disney’s and Warner Brothers’ empires and inspired multiple generations of would-be illustrators to explore the form as a medium for complex storytelling. Modern animators create with stop-motion, rotoscoping, digital, and hand-drawn tools—and their subject matter has greatly matured since the days of Steamboat Willie.For nearly two decades, producer and cartoon enthusiast Ron Diamond has curated and distributed the “Animation Show of Shows,” a compendium of the year’s best short animated films presented as a single 90-minute program. The showcase also serves as a major awards platform for animators; 36 shorts included in past programs have been nominated for Academy Awards, with 10 going on to win the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film.
This year’s selections feature animation hailing from across Europe and North America; each vignette is no longer than five minutes. They include a French digital geometric collage music video for R&B singer Charles X’s single “Can You Do It”; a surreal hand-drawn stream-of-consciousness narrative from Belgian artist Lia Bertels; a beautifully realized piece of 1990 student work from Inside Out’sPete Docter; British director Jac Clinch’s tongue-in-cheek mixed-media treatise on the mundane side of precognition; a gauzy and experimental series of images from Canadian animator Elise Simard and a striking recently restored adaptation of poet Maurice Ogden’s “The Hangman” from 1964.
Why You Should Go: This one-stop shop of cartoons from around the world offers a sampler plate of many of the finest films of the year. We promise you’ll know more about the Animated Short category than anyone else at your Oscar party.