It’s Oscar-nominated short films time, and 2017’s animation choices are a technologically wide-ranging bunch: One was made entirely in Photoshop, and another marks the first entry of a 360 Google Spotlight-animated film, which enables viewers, via computer, to explore a film’s entire landscape, beyond the ostensible action. All five will screen at the IFC Center this week.
And the nominees are:
The foreboding and beautiful “Blind Vaysha,” from Bulgarian animator Theodore Ushev, goes old-school with its woodcut-styled folk tale about a girl born with one eye that can see only the past, while the other sees only the future.
“Pearl,” which director Patrick Osborne made in 360 Google Spotlight, is almost entirely centered on a battered-but-beloved old car, which first belongs to a bohemian dad who busks on street corners while his little girl watches; we watch him age, settle down and raise her as she grows up to become a musician herself.
“Borrowed Time,” while not from Pixar itself, comes from studio alumni Andrew Coats and Lou Hamou-Lhadj. Even more melancholy than Pixar’s emotional “Up” or “Wall-E,” it involves a sheriff who makes a pilgrimage to a cliff, wracked with tragic memories from the past, and flashes back to a pivotal stagecoach ride with a father figure.
“Piper,” the Pixar short that ran before “Finding Dory” in theaters this summer, is probably the most conventionally animated of the bunch — and the most uplifting. Director Alan Barillaro’s story of an ocean-phobic baby sandpiper learning it has different, but special, skills dovetails nicely with the plot of “Dory,” and as far as I’m concerned, is far superior to it.
In “Pear Cider and Cigarettes,” the longest entry at 35 minutes, directors Robert Valley and Cara Speller narrate Valley’s noir-tinged ode to his late friend Techno, a hard-partying high school legend who became a cautionary tale after multiple accidents, a botched transfusion and a failing liver transplant. Much of the Photoshopped short has the same lean, leather-studded look as the show where Valley got his directorial start in animation, MTV’s “Aeon Flux,” though you’ll also recognize his style from his work on Gorillaz videos. “Pear Cider” also boasts a killer rock soundtrack ranging from Pink Floyd to Black Sabbath to Wilco.
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