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A collection of mind-expanding films, inspiring artists, and insights into the animation process to fuel your creative practice.

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Monday Shorts

Make your Mondays a little more pleasant with a newly curated short film each week, plus our insights into why we love them.

A mysterious creature stands with outstretched arms under a glowing light

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Two characters in fighting poses stand in front of a cherry blossom tree and harborfront

The Calgary-shot Fraggle Rock reboot is out! Plus trailers for Inu-Oh, Shenmue the Animation, and The Cuphead Show, animated GLAAD Media Award nominees, and other news from the world of animation

A hand holds a pencil over a newspaper classified ad

Plenty of interesting opportunities this week, including calls for Calgary festivals, mentorship and scholarships for Alberta media artists, an international residency at Hiroshima, and a chance to help steer the Alberta animation and VFX industry

A mouse with in a sweater stares straight ahead with wide-open eyes

Trailers for Netflix's The House and Cuphead's latest DLC, plus Slovenian stop-motion, awards announcements, Makato Shinkai's new feature, and Bugs Bunny vs. The Walrus

The number 2021 written with sparklers

A look back on a year full of preparation and anticipation—with more than its share of bright spots along the way

A man stands in the pouring rain, his face nearly expressionless.

The opening image of Panta Rhei is a long shot of a beach. On the left, a humpback whale lies on the sand belly up. In the centre, the film's protagonist, a marine biologist named Stefaan, stands motionless. The camera is far back, the two figures dwarfed by the barren beach and the drab grey sky.

A small town at night with snow covering the houses, and a horse-drawn sleigh passing by

We'll have limited availability from Dec. 19 through January 17—thanks for your patience, and happy holidays!

A figure in heavy winter clothing straddles a gap in the ice, as similar figures stand in the background obscured by falling snow.

Freeze Frame is a stop-motion film made from ice, and there is an inherent tension between that technique and that material. Stop motion is a slow, tedious practice that creates the appearance of motion from static materials. But ice is never really static. As soon as it's out of the freezer, it is already in the process of disappearing.

GIRAF 17 festival poster: a frog eats a fly, its tongue twists to spell out the word GIRAF

The numbers have been crunched, and we can say with mathematical certainty that these were your favourite films

GIRAF 17 festival poster: a frog eats a fly, its tongue twists to spell out the word GIRAF

After hours of viewing and careful deliberation, it's time to announce the winners of this year’s jury prizes at GIRAF17

A glowing white figure stands on a hill as a comet blazes in the background

A Spirit made of pure white light roams the earth at a time-scale we can barely comprehend. What would humanity look like to a being that moves in geological time?

A girl with a distorted face holds up a pillbug as an offering

This officially makes it a tradition: We're once again writing about the signal film for our GIRAF animation festival. But can we help it when the films are this good?

A frog with its tongue spelling "GIRAF." Full text: Quickdraw Animation Society: GIRAF 17 Festival of Independent Animation, streaming online Canada-wide, Nov. 19-28, giraffest.ca

We’ve been focusing so much on the films and artists in this year’s festival that we might’ve missed mentioning a few details, so here are five things you might not know about GIRAF17

A grainy photograph of a cloud with a tangle of lines vaguely outlining the cloud.

The simplicity of Salise Hughes' How to Draw Clouds makes it a really difficult film to write about. As the synopsis says, it's a "meditation on the desire to hold on to the ephemeral," and at only two minutes long, it makes its point concisely and poetically. Honestly, what else is there to say?

A ballpoint pen drawing of a group of businessmen in a tightly-packed elevator

Cage Match is essentially a stress dream, drawn from the same subconscious source that brought you the test you forgot study for and the job you forgot you still had—just ramped up to 11. What starts off looking like just a moment of claustrophobia quickly becomes a battle royale between beefy super-wrestlers.

Glowing purple skulls are placed awkwardly in a 2D video-game-like landscape

In honour of International Animation Day and the Halloween weekend, enjoy 13 spooky selections from Quickdraw's ongoing Vimeo channel.

A park ranger walks carefully in the woods in a still from the short animation 100,000 Acres of Pine

From its opening shot—a car interior bathed in red light, the protagonist small and blurry outside the windshield, hints of tree branches and utter darkness behind her—100,000 Acres of Pine sets a sinister mood that it never lets fade.

Still from Natasha Faye Jensen's Gazing the Hothouse, at Canmore's artsPlace

Cholo is an independent Calgary-based artist, working primarily in digital illustration. Born in the Philippines and raised in Canada, they are a self-taught visual artist who’s worked in various mediums including digital illustration, graphic design, painting, printmaking, and very recently, animation.

Black-and-white photo of Pocholo Cabarroguis in half-tone style.

Cholo is an independent Calgary-based artist, working primarily in digital illustration. Born in the Philippines and raised in Canada, they are a self-taught visual artist who’s worked in various mediums including digital illustration, graphic design, painting, printmaking, and very recently, animation.

Still from abstract animated film Sonolumin

Diana Reichenbach's short is about "the relationship of light, sound, and space" — the feeling you get from how those elements interact, and the blurring between the senses when the synchronized sound and image hit just right.

A stop-motion puppet in mid-fall from a staircase, held in pace by an armature.

OSSA

Monday ShortsOct 04, 2021

Animation and dance share an obsession with understanding movement, breaking down complex acts into their component parts, and understanding the expressive potential of even the subtlest gestures.

Three generations of Moroccan women stand in front of a geometric patterned background

Ayam

Monday ShortsSep 27, 2021

Opening with an overhead shot of a grandmother's hands inspecting a tea set, the film is as patient and unhurried as its subject, and as comfortable as the most pleasant family gathering.

A one-eyed person with green skin and pink hair plays with a small red blob.

It's strange to say that a story about a one-eyed being who accidentally destroys a planet full of life feels deeply personal, but in this case, it's the truth.

An illustration of a person in a trucker hat and vest staring at a bowl of ramen

Set in small-town Saskatchewan in the year 2037, it's the story of a trendy noodle shop exploring the newest frontier in hipster cuisine: psychedelic, polydimensional comfort food.

A woman looks at coffee and cereal in a grocery store

A pair student films using fuzzy, felted puppets to explore the darker side of human nature, Mantzaris' films play like two sides of the same psychological coin.

Still from Yearbook – a man eats an unimpressive meal in front of a wall of photos.

Yearbook is a bittersweet film, but it’s a deeply affecting one, a reminder that life is more important than legacy, and how easy it is to get lost dwelling on the wrong things. That it can do all that while still being this briskly paced, this concise, and this funny is truly impressive.

A table in Richard Reeves' studio, covered in analog film, scissors, rulers, and scratch-film tools

A kinetic film scratcher, visual music maker, animated traveler of time and space, light sensitive, looper of loops and collector of motion picture projection bulbs to bring total enlightenment.

A mysterious creature stands with outstretched arms under a glowing light

A leafy creature roams the wasteland, a lone figure of life and warmth gathering its energy and releasing it in flame-like bursts, which eventually spread through the land, urging new growth from old roots.

Still from Gabriel de la Roche's Les Hydres

The film's climax is a psychedelic trip, a glorious, glitchy vision of aquatic life and ego death that couldn't be further removed from the 2D scrolling of its opening.

A collage of images from a variety of global currencies

Parks' ability to bring fresh eyes to her materials makes Foreign Exchange stand out. Zoomed in, cropped, collaged and recombined, her compositions force new perspectives as the most familiar elements become, well, foreign.

Still from Evelyn Jane Ross' Adam, a clay figure sits in front of a purple background

Adam

Monday ShortsJul 26, 2021

A feminine, feminist reframing of the act of creation, Ross’ film revels openly in its sexuality. Adam depicts the process as tender and tactile, not cold and clinical. It’s a creation fueled by desire, one just as linked to the needs of the body as any of the acts that would follow from it. 

Still from Barbeque by Jenny Jokela. A painted illustration featuring nude women in a variety of surreal settings.

The human form becomes plastic beyond belief, faces stretching and distorting, bodies opening up, skin peeling off and re-applied as clothing. It's a nightmare realm, as surreal and disturbing as Bosch's most vivid fantasies.

Still from Reneepoptosis – three faces talk to three smiling cysts

"Lighthearted" might not be the first word that comes to mind in a film that features auto-cannibalism, grubby parasites, and landscapes overstuffed with fleshy mounds, laughing cysts, and far too many teeth, but it fits.

An abstract image of swirling red ink and white light

You're bound to imagine faces and figures if you stare deeply enough, angelic or insect-like faces created by the brain's love of bilateral symmetry. It's a meditative experience, or maybe a transcendent one—the brightest moments certainly feel downright heavenly.

Flood screenshot

Flood

Monday ShortsJun 28, 2021

Flood is driven by a haunting, yet progressive sound design with two main characters Spider Woman and Thunderbird. They act as vessels, composing and carrying the story of an Indigenous youth named Thunder, navigating her way through a colonial flood.

illustration of a woman in a hat and glasses speaking to the camera

Does the introduction of a fictional narrative in the film's visuals separate it from the truth of the situation? Or is it a way to strive for another kind of truth?

Frame from an animation by Nina Patafi of a character opening a garbage bag

Nina Patafi is a 4th year AUArts student whose focus is illustration and animation. Her current project is a stop-motion animation using cut-outs and pieces of garbage to simulate a garbage-filled world.

Still from Troy Kokol's animated music video for his song "Like a Record" — a hand-drawn tape cassette with mouth and legs over a scattered stack of 7" records

An award-winning Canadian singer, producer, video director and songwriter, Troy Kokol is also a talented animator.

The band Nobro jams in Hell with the devil on guitar and an audience of skeletons and demons

Greg Doble is a Montreal-based animator and illustrator who specializes in 2D animation. His work is easily recognizable by its playful absurdity and whimsical nature.

Rachel Bulman's work-from-home animation setup, including an improvised downshooter camera

A fun, creative person who loves to draw and create fun and entertaining scenarios to make people laugh, they enrolled in VCAD and began studying 3D modelling to help with that mission.

CGI characters projected onto a wall in downtown Calgary

Axis-Z Media Arts (AZMA) is a Calgary-based artistic collective interested in creating genre-blurring digital art experiences that step outside the confines of the rectangular screen and into the real world.

An illustration of a cat looking bashful

Kayla Twaddle is an upcoming graduate of the Alberta University of the Arts majoring in Character Design. She has a passion for all things silly and cute, and brings a child-like playfulness to her work using colour and style.

A man in a beret proposes to a woman in front of a farm.

Like a fairy tale, it makes its point through simple storytelling and exaggerated elements. And like a thought experiment, it puts a friendly face to a thorny problem.

A girl stares out her bedroom window

"When you’re out in the bush, especially at night with no light pollution, something shiny and bright tends to stick out."

A book sits on a table with a cherry-patterned table cloth. The book lays open, and inside is a painted face covering the words, one eye on each side of the open book with the nose over the spine. The face looks lonely.

Like its predecessor, How to Be At Home is a work of radical empathy. It doesn't sugar-coat the hardship of loneliness or the mental toll of living in a situation of extreme, almost unprecedented ambiguity.

abstract details of what looks like the inside of a body, with muscles, tendons and bone.

The harmony between the creative visions of de Boer and Ill Considered is hard to deny, and the resulting film is striking enough that it doesn't really matter whether you see it as a reverse music video, an abstract animation, or something else altogether.

A pair of slippers on the ground beside a bed

The harmony between the creative visions of de Boer and Ill Considered is hard to deny, and the resulting film is striking enough that it doesn't really matter whether you see it as a reverse music video, an abstract animation, or something else altogether.

Overlapping painted images of a child in a t-shirt and red shorts

By taking their path to self-understanding and depicting it with warmth, care, and directness, Charpentier-Basille has made an entertaining short that doubles as a gateway to understanding.

Three frog-like characters stare at the screen in shock

Like a feudal Japanese take on The Wind in the Willows, Yon Hui Lee's CalArts graduate film tells a tale of fantasy and mob justice in a world of frogs and toads.

An anthropomorphized figure of time spins the heavens

Equal parts folklore and The Cat Came Back, Killing Time finds the amiable personification of time unknowingly tormenting its hero by just being itself.

Many illustrated characters stand around in a desert. The top left features anthropomorphic beer cans holding hands, one with its head in a pond. To the right, passing by bottles in the sand, there is a large head poking out of a puddle made out of oil-like substance. The bottom left starts with an illustration of a hollow foot with a straw coming out of it, two characters with human bodies but champagne corks for heads, and two martini glasses with human legs. At the bottom right there is a parade of red solo shot cups. In the very middle stands a lone gentleman in a black body suit.

Narrated with alternating cynicism and intensity by the gravel-voiced Vincent Macaigne, Devaux's film is a masterpiece of forced sincerity and simmering resentments, exploring the angst, regret and Freudian undercurrents that give this family's weekly gatherings their unique dynamic.

Many boulders sit on grass. On top of a smaller boulder in the middle, several colourful birds sit. A small boy is next to the rock and has his arms up

The story in L'homme aux oiseaux is storybook simple, but it isn't really about the plot. The heart of the film lies in the joy of watching colour and life spring from the soil.

Two drawn stick-like figures drawn on a white background. A feminine on the left, a masculine on the right. They are standing on what looks like a heart shape

2

Monday ShortsMar 15, 2021

The title refers to the two characters who open and end the film, but combined with the symmetrical structure and the mid-film inversion, it also points to 2's many dualities.

Abstract art of lines of charcoal being smeared over a sketchbook page to look like river ends, or tree branches, or the wings of a bird.

One of the wonderful things about a film like River Lethe is that no description can actually do it justice, and no interpretation is definitive.

A sniper floats high in the air above a city during nighttime.

Instead of trying to recreate events, Chandoutis uses animation to create his unsettling atmosphere, building a backdrop of video game-style wireframes and letting them stack up in innumerable layers until the tangle of lines is almost completely indecipherable.

A man stands with his back against a wall, as if sneaking around the corner. On the wall around said corner there is a painting of a house hung up.

Where most of Nkondo's previous shorts have played with the abstraction of 2D art's simplified perspectives, The New Exhibition opens up a new dimension—or at least half of one.

A painted illustration of a black woman, wearing a hairnet and a blue robe. Behind her are people picking berries

Âme noire isn't so much about the past in and of itself as it is about the way that past lives on in the present, how it shapes cultures and, as the title says, soul.

At sunset, a group of people stand around four boulders at a beach. Four people are kneeling in front of them, four people stand around them, and the rest sit behind them all.

The loss of cultural knowledge is always a tragedy, but it seems doubly so when it comes to oral cultures where, once a story is gone, it is truly gone. That makes the very existence of Kapaemahu a bit of a miracle.

a drawing of two figures, a dark and a light one. The darker figure is cradling the light one

Tides

Monday ShortsJan 25, 2021

(caution: NSFW). Tides is a film about the relationship between light and dark within us all. It is about the person behind the smile, the exhaustion of pretending, and how it is sometimes needed to give in to our darker tendencies in order to survive

Brightly coloured illustration of a woman puckering her lips towards the camera. In the background it's a scene of a fast food restaurant with chicken wings and other foods on shelves, where the cashier is a bird.

It's been a treat watching Hodkin's style evolve from short to short, and her first post-student animation, a music video for The Magic Gang, shows she can do unbridled joy just as well as she does offbeat dialogue and surreal humour. Whatever comes next, we already know it'll be worth watching.

painting of a boy with dark skin looking towards the camera with concern in his eyes. There looks to be a reflection of light on his face, speckles of green and orange

The first half of Make It Soul constrains the marker to the background, lending an impressionist touch to the Chicago neighbourhood that sets the stage for the short — but once characters come into focus, they're rendered in crisp, digital lines. It's a smart way of introducing the aesthetic, but it still hardly prepares you for the moment Brown's performance starts.

Illustration made with sand on glass depicts a man at the entrance to a circular labyrinth

The film feels like it's being viewed through a veil, or refracted through a pool of water—which is perfectly appropriate for such a drifting, dreamlike story.

a blue human hand on the right is holding a planet. The background looks as a galaxy in pastel with a similar star/planet circle in the middle

The film examines humanity's view of the universe through the sweep of human history, depicting scenes from myths and legends along with our evolving scientific understanding, all in just under seven minutes, plus credits.

contour line drawing of people sitting next to each other in what looks lik ea train

Structured around a mother telling her daughter about their struggles in post-dictatorship Athens, My Mother's Coat is a film full of regrets, but it isn't sour and it isn't even exactly sad, although it isn't happy either.

Purple circles and yellow and orange dots on a black background.

Play it on the biggest screen you can find. Don't analyze it. Don't ask yourself what it means. Just let it happen.

Black and white cutouts of raised fists, with a woman in a headscarf looking concerned in the middle

Sara

Monday ShortsNov 09, 2020

A story that's both lighthearted (sports fandom!) and serious (government repression!), exposing one more way that extreme religious conservatism restricts freedom.

A long-necked creature lies thirstily on the desert floor, a dead lizard beside it.

Agnew said that she "wanted to create a story that was lighthearted but also very strange," and that definitely comes through in the short story of a long-necked creature (most definitely not a giraffe) slowly starving in a sun-scorched desert.

A cartoonish, nervous bellhop drawn in pure black and white

Ooze

Monday ShortsOct 26, 2020

If it's fair to classify Ooze as a psychological horror film (it's certainly unsettling, in spite of its cartoonish character design), it's a much more internal one than the genre usually allows for—and a more efficient one, too. In only five minutes, you're drawn into the elevator operator's plight, pulled through the depths of his unconscious, and emerge, well, somewhere else, although it's hard to say where, exactly.

An autumn-coloured hut in the middle of a dark forest

In the most straightforward telling, the Mothman was a creature that appeared in Point Pleasant, West Virginia in the 1960s, whose presence coincided with a bridge collapse that killed 46 people, leaving locals wondering about its role in the disaster. If you want to follow that rabbit hole, things get much stranger from there.

Two shadowy figures look out a window at a colourful purple cloud

Julian Glander's films are child-like, not childish. They're full of wonder, imagination and playfulness, and they tend to unfold with the "and then this happened" logic that makes kids' stories so strangely charming.

A bearded man stands in front of wheat fields in autumn.

In the most straightforward telling, the Mothman was a creature that appeared in Point Pleasant, West Virginia in the 1960s, whose presence coincided with a bridge collapse that killed 46 people, leaving locals wondering about its role in the disaster. If you want to follow that rabbit hole, things get much stranger from there.

A man with an afro strokes his beard in front of a gym's double doors

Animation is great at conjuring worlds that never existed, but that's not all it's good for. It's also a perfect medium for showing true stories that are too good to be true.

A woman brushes her teeth in a cluttered apartment, while translucent versions of herself do other parts of her morning routine behind her

Ohayo

Monday ShortsAug 24, 2020

If anything, the most remarkable thing about Ohayo is that it tells a complete story in its one-minute, and one that even feels refreshing to watch. It's not the final film he would have intended, but it's a lovely note to go out on.

A yellow and black bird sits on a branch in the forest. Overlaid text says "Cake FXX"

Birds

Monday ShortsJul 27, 2020

Released as part of the FXX series Cake, Joe Bennett's short Birds is maybe the sweetest memento mori you'll ever stumble across.