SXSW 2021 Review: Animated Shorts Round Up

By Joan Amenn

O Black Hole!

Year: 2021

Runtime: 16 minutes

Director: Renee Zhan

“O Black Hole!” (2021) is the winner of Special Recognition for Vision in the Texas Shorts category of SXSW Film Awards. Director Renee Zhan unleashes a tour de force of visual power and just when you think she has shown you everything she has, she cranks up her animated innovations even higher. You’ll be picking your jaw up off the floor by the end of this beautiful, lush and touching short film.

Navozonde, the Musician

Year: 2021

Runtime: 15 minutes

Director: Reza Riahi

A tragic tale of the Persian Empire during the conquest of the Mongols, “Navozonde, the Musician” (2021) is an ancient tapestry come to animated life. The musical score that director Reza Riahi chose to accompany the film is perfect as well. It brings to mind some verses the poet Rumi wrote, “I want to hold you close like the lute/so we can cry out with loving…” “Navozonde” is a moving tribute to the beauty of a region of the world that has known so much grief from war over so many centuries.

Your Own Bullshit

Year: 2021

Runtime: 6 minutes

Director: Daria Kopiec

“Your Own Bullshit” (2021) is he winner of Special Recognition for Storytelling in the Animated Shorts category of SXSW Film Awards. Clay animation is not necessarily the first choice of animators wishing to depict a very relatable, emotional part of everyday life. Director Daria Kopiec fearlessly creates a world from a fusion of clay and drawn animation to evoke a poignant wave that sweeps over a viewer. Her film seems so simple and yet it is so deeply and disturbingly complex in how it unfolds its story. “Your Own Bullshit” is a true innovative gem of animation.

Our Bed is Green

Year: 2021

Runtime: 7 minutes

Director:  Maggie Brennan

“Our Bed is Green” is a wistful, heartfelt story of the internal conflict one young woman experiences in exploring her sexual orientation. Director Maggie Brennan creates a unique world for her protagonist to wrestle with her secret desires in 2D animation that has a dreamy, surreal quality. The pressures of social acceptance and the need to be true to oneself are encapsulated in a short runtime but are still touching in how they are portrayed.

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