SXSW 2013 Spotlight: Animated Shorts

Dorothy Burk Vasquez
Cicada Princess

The animated short is the perfect vehicle for filmmakers who want to reach audiences in a fascinating, often whimsical way while making substantial technical and artistic advancements. This year's SXSW animated shorts selections don't disappoint on either counts.

SXSW Shorts Program: Animated Shorts

City: Austin, TX
Venue: Rollins Theater at The Long Center
Date: 2013-03-09

Animated Shorts, Often Underrated, Are a Highlight of This Year's SXSW Film

The animated short provides rich opportunities for filmmakers who want to tell short-form stories that can be just as philosophical as they are whimsical. This year's SXSW animated shorts selection is proof of just how diverse this form of storytelling can be. The animated shorts program premiered on 3/9 and will run again on Tues. 3/12 at 4:15 PM at the Stateside Theatre and Weds. 3/13 at 9:30 PM at the Vimeo Theater.

The 10 shorts featured in this year's program run the gamut from fun to heart-breaking to mind-bending. My personal favorite was The Event, which combines visual and sonic poetry into a story about a severed foot at the end of the world. And that's not the only short to rave about. Sci-Fly is a visual trip that uses setting-as-story while The Places Where We Lived tells us a story about many settings.

Several of the shorts get heavy, in particular Kishi Bashi, 'I Am the Antichrist to You, a sonically gorgeous study in loss and grief and The Gold Sparrow, a sweeping portrait of the colors of creative lives. Perhaps the most intriguing of all is the very short Old Man, which uses recorded phone calls between Charles Manson and author Marlin Marynick to reveal the deep paranoia of one of America's most infamous serial killers.

Of course, the shorts program also offered plenty of levity. The Blue Umbrella is a new Pixar short with a predictable-but-cute storyline. Marcel, King of Tervuren (Greek tragedy enacted by roosters) and Shelved (robots being phased out by humans at work) both deal in timeless themes in new, amusing ways. Oh Willy… comes complete with stop-motion nudists in a funny and surprisingly warm short about finding one's place in the world. Perhaps the strongest of the whimsical shorts is Cicada Princess, a clever take on how those melodious bugs spend their short lives.

If you're at SXSW Film, take the time to check out these shorts. If you're not in Austin, look for them online and at festivals throughout this year. I'm even giving Cicada Princess and Shelved a good chance at taking home an Academy Award next year.

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