As technical capabilities for animation advance into new spheres, the heart of 2017’s Oscar-nominated animated shorts look introspectively into the past. With coming-of-age tales and protagonists revisiting the moments that shaped them, the program includes the five Animated Short award nominees, as well as three “highly commended” shorts, “Asteria,” “The Head Vanishes,” and “Once Upon a Line.” The nominees, summarized below, explore the passage of time, weaving the past and present together in one narrative.
“Borrowed Time” — USA — 7 minutes
Set in the Wild West, “Borrowed Time” switches between the gleaming memories of the past and the withering grey of the present. A man returns to memories from the cusp of adulthood, reflecting on the wagon accident that killed his father. With no dialogue, “Borrowed Time” creates emotive close-up facial expressions and mood-setting lighting to tell a tale of grief, guilt and reconciliation.
“Pearl” — USA — 6 minutes
Produced by Google and Evil Eye Pictures and viewable in interactive 360o, “Pearl” is the first virtual reality film ever nominated for an Oscar. Its heartwarming coming-of-age tale is told through the windows of the car Pearl grew up in. From toddler games in the backseat, to teenage rebellion and fights with her father, Pearl reminisces about a place that has become her home, the comfort of having something that remains the same even as life outside evolves.
“Piper” — USA — 6 minutes
Theatrically released alongside “Finding Dory,” “Piper” has all the hyperrealistic animation and endearing charm of classic Pixar. A baby sandpiper is encouraged to leave the nest and join the rest of the flock looking for food by the shoreline. A bad encounter with the waves leaves Piper terrified of returning to the water. After copying the behavior of nearby hermit crabs, Piper sees the ocean from a new perspective and conquers her fear of the incoming tide.
“Pear Cider and Cigarettes” — Canada & UK — 35 minutes
A letter arrives in the mail: Techno is dead. The narrator remembers the first time he met Techno at age 12, and the illusion of invulnerability he exuded, then the accidents and alcoholism that followed. The narrator travels to China to care for him in the hospital and get him home safe. In comic book-style animation and a casual yet honest narration, “Pear Cider and Cigarettes” is an exploration into the relationship between two friends, and an ode to a fractured and unforgettable man.
“Blind Vaysha” — Canada — 8 minutes
A little girl is born with a left eye that only sees the past, and a right eye that only sees the future. Paralyzed, balancing the fear of the future and the comfortable familiarity of the past, Vaysha walks through the world incapable of interacting with the present.
With scratchy linocut animation, “Blind Vaysha” captures the texture and chaos of folklore.
Embedded within a program that dallies mainly in the past, “Blind Vaysha” addresses the audience directly, asking us to look inward and consider: “Do we see the world with the eyes of Vaysha the Blind?”