Just as the short story trembles in the footprint of the novel, the short film plays David to featurelength film Goliaths. But with the help of shiny, naked bald men, these wee bits of cinematic splendor step from the shadows and sling their short shots. And in the 12 years I’ve had the pleasure of covering them, this year’s bunch is easily the best. The animated shorts screen at the International Film Series Friday, Feb. 14, and Saturday, Feb. 15, at 7:30 p.m., and on Sunday, Feb. 16, at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. All screenings take place at Muenzinger Auditorium on the University of Colorado Boulder campus.
Animated Short Films
“Get a Horse” — directed by Lauren MacMullen
Nominating any Disney animation feels obvious and obligatory. But “Get a Horse” is a delightful madcap romp that brings a classic version of Mickey Mouse back on screen. Little more than a series of cartoon character slapstick sight gags, it’s a throwback that still has a bit of pep in its step, even if it has nothing to say.
“Feral” — directed by Daniel Sousa
This gorgeous endeavor feels like a moving painting. Following a wild boy who is brought to a school to be civilized, the short reminds us that the savagery of the animals is outdone by the beastly nature of “society.” It’s the most visually arresting film of the bunch, even if its theme is as old as Tarzan.
“Room on the Broom” — directed by Jan Lachauer and Max Lang
This faux clay-mation special is pure kids’ stuff, which is surprisingly refreshing. The whimsical narration provided by Simon Pegg advances a delightful morality tale about acceptance, collaboration and the power of the dark arts. Parents may not be wild about that last part, but it’s a lot of fun.
“Possessions” — directored by Shuhei Morita
“Possessions” is a three-dimensional, computer-generated version of handdrawn Japanese anime, infused with the spirit of Hayao Miyazaki. Umbrellas and tapestries come to life and “attack” a wayward soul who defeats them by repairing them. It’s as silly and delightful as it is lush and vibrant. It’s why I love animated shorts, and it’s not even the best one.
“Mr. Hublot” — directed by Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares
I watched “Mr. Hublot” twice in a row. I love it. I want it made into a full-length feature, and I would buy the inevitable associated toy line. A fusty robot with OCD is transformed when he adopts a growing robo-pup. This gem is part steampunk visuals and part E.T. scifi tear-jerking. “Get a Horse” will take home Oscar gold (ugh), but “Mr. Hublot” stole my heart.
—This review first appeared in The Reader of Omaha, Neb.