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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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a point-of-view shot of someone's feet sticking out of the water. The colour palette is very muted. The text below it reads 

The pervasive sense of melancholy, the dream-like story structure, the dark, dry humour; all of them create a mood that's hard to describe and equally hard to forget. 

Image of a cute blue character wear ing a chef hat lifting a large yellow oven spatula into a pizza over in a small cabin.

In his words, it's "a lamentable tragedy mixed full of pleasant mirth," but the mirth is mostly in the contrast between Cross' golden age animation style and his willingness to follow through on a premise to its bitterest conclusion.

Pencil drawing o fa woman holding her face in her hands, her eyes are closed and she has long hair

Sijia Ke's film Pear is based on a true story. Maybe. It's based on a story, in any case — one that Ke was listening to on the radio, despite not speaking the language it was broadcast in.

Illustration of a bird-man wearing a blue-green suit holding a gun of some sort that looks like it's spewing radio waves (colours red, white and blue) into the sky. From One Year, One Film, One Second a Day by the Brothers McLeod

For an entire year, the McLeod's drew one second of animation each day, basing it on something they had seen, heard or read over the course of the day, with a little creative license for good measure.

Three characters are looking off-screen to the right. The leftmost character is a character with an elephant face, and elephant faces for arms. The middle scaracter looks lik ea furry being wearin gan owl mask. The third character has antlers, and three faces stacked on top of each other like a Totem pole

Anne Breymann's 2017 film Nachtstück is, in a word, weird. Not in the hand-wavy, dismissive way that word is often used, as in "that was weird, I don't get it." Nachtstück is weird in a deeper, more unsettling way, the way that horror writer H.P. Lovecraft articulated almost a century ago in his essay Supernatural Horror in Literature

Screenshot of Victoria Vincent's Floatland (2018)
Image of a girl looking at a screen to the left of the frame. She has blue long hair in a ponytail and is holding a game controller. Behind her is a dirty room filled with clothing, bottles, posters, empty bowls, cigarettes and prescription bottles

The range of moods it runs through in just over two-and-a-half minutes is astounding. The fact she can do it in such an intuitively appealing way is why she's an artist you absolutely should be following.

Screenshot from Andy Kennedy's Slow Wave (2016). Image is of a warped bedroom, looking at the bed on a tilt, wiht a night stand next to it. There are two windows on the right wall and a light above the bed. There is a portal directly above the headboard of the bed radiating a bright neon pink that douses the room with its light.

The first half of the film shows the unease that accompanies those restless nights where sleep never seems to come. The second shows that falling asleep isn't always so great, either.

Image of  awoman in a white robe with tassels down her front stands by a birch tree and looking past the camera. The scene is in a forest

The story of a Nishnaabeg youth and elder rescuing a canoe from a museum's collection, it's a direct challenge to the western claim that other culture's artifacts are educational items or historical curiousities.

black and white colour scheme. Depicts an establishing shot of an environment with large hills, but with two figures - one with a black body and a white dot on their middle, and one with a white body and a black dot on their middle - sitting on the floor looking at each other.

There's a reason it walked away from our 2017 GIRAF festival with the Audience Favourite award and some of the highest ratings we've ever seen for a short at the fest.

image of a man standing in a room with minimal furniture. A piano, some discarded picture frames. The room is framed as a circle, and we're looking in it from a god-like view above. All in black and white

Split into four parts, the film is somewhere between a visual poem and an expression of philosophy, cycling through acts of creation and destruction, evolution and remembrance. Volcanoes erupt, creatures evolve as sort of whimsical exquisite corpses, the pins that make up the animation dance around the screen in a strangely minimal ballet.

preview image for Alan Holly's Coda (2014). A dark green grassy background, with a nude character lying down, surrounded by black bugs. The title "CODA" is next to him, and the rest of the image is taken up by the various awards that "Coda" has won

Its post-life coda can't come close to capturing everything beautiful about life, but that failure is its own argument for life's beauty.

screenshot from Prologue (2015) by Richard Williams. A sketchy aesthetic of a man's angry face with blowing dandelion seeds in the foreground

Prologue is meant to be the beginning of an adaptation of Lysistrata, the Greek play where women withhold sex from their spouses to stop a war. It would be interesting to see where Williams aimed to take the production; how faithful he would be to its story, how much humour and horror he planned to bring to the piece.

A gloomy image of a street. A red moon in the background has a raven fly across it. 
There are two citizens looking frightened towards the camera. They are wearing old-time clothes (Bowler hat, suit, large sun hat and high-collared dress) and their heads are gourds

Before it was fleshed out into a 10-film miniseries (which constitutes one of the best American animated features of the 21st century, for what it's worth), Patrick McHale's Over the Garden Wall started its life as a more humble short film, Tome of the Unknown.

illustration of a large monster with fin ears, large fangs, and covered in fur with its mouth open. In the mouth there are 6 skeletons writhing in pain, engulfed in Flames

Robbie Ward's video for "Annihilation" by Dedsa is a stunner, a one-of-a-kind creation that's equally suited to a serious watching or the epic backdrop to your Halloween party.

Black and white image of a close up shot of a person holding an egg in front of their face. The egg's shadow makes the mouth and nose of the person cloaked in black.

Everything in an animated world can grow, shrink or transform in the blink of an eye, and the simple cube in which Egg's narrator resides does all that, constantly—and so does the character.

black and white image of a boy with glasses looking at a figure wearing a dog mask. The masked figure is holding up their finger as if to Shush the main character. Everything is slightly blurred.

Filmed with a multiplane camera setup with five layers, the film only gives viewers glimpses of the whole, with constant motion on the other, blurred-out layers adding to the film's inner anxiety.

drawn in neon lights of a rooster and a unicorn looking towards the audience through a window

an animated short as part of the National Film Board's Five @ 50 Series: An Intimate Look at Contemporary LGBTQ2+ Lives and Iden­ti­ties. A neon-coloured tribute (conflicted as it may be) to a long-shuttered Edmonton gay bar, it is every bit as thoughtful, personal and provocative as you'd expect, and a worthy addition to Vivek's ever-growing artistic catalogue.

A crowd of stick-people each lost in their own private worlds.

Despite being overshadowed by the two very different masterpieces he released on either side of it, Don Hertzfeldt's The Meaning of Life is still the kind of film most animators go their whole career hoping to create—funny, thoughtful, cynical and gorgeous in its own odd way.

A young girl stands on the surface of the sun, staring at a tall castle.

If you're in need of a wholesome escape, Jacob Kafka's student short is a great place to get it. Silly, calm, and life-affirming, it's six well-spent minutes for the terminally overwhelmed.


Monday ShortsMay 02, 2022

Set in a version of Kolkata that has been made uninhabitable by rising water levels in a post-global warming future, Ghost studio's 2020 short is a tense 10 minutes of climate horror

an artistic rendering of deep space as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope, with swirling clusters of purple, blue and white stars on a black background

The daughter of one of the engineers who worked on the creation and launch of the Hubble Space Telescope, Tracy K. Smith's poem is a touching tribute to her father's work—but it's the analog artwork by Brazilian animation director Daniel Bruson that truly elevates this short film

A person stands in a nearly bare room, with a single window and chair beside them. They're holding a multicoloured sweater, getting ready to put it on.

A clever spin on abstract animation, Sweater gives its director an excuse to indulge in the medium's affinity for swirling patterns, vivid colours, and kaleidoscopic arrangements, with some relateable slapstick added as a framing device

On old man in a white shirt, green vest and red tie speaks to an ornate, single-eyed robot. Behind them there is a wall of bookshelves densely packed with beautiful hard-backed books.

Steeped in art deco elegance and ornate designs, Avarya is a visually rich addition to one of science fiction's longest ongoing converstions—one that has only gotten more urgent since it began nearly a century ago.

A pencil drawing on lined yellow paper depicting an octopus with bright red boxing gloves at the end of each tentacle

With its unique visual metaphors, subtle comic timing, and the sandpaper grit of cognitive dissonance, Lepage's darkly funny short captures a contemporary version of an age-old feeling.

A line drawing of a child looking worried, staring straight forward, as other children look up. Other images are overlaid in red pencil, of fish hooks, a fish, a cut of meat, and what look like dead grassses.

An encounter with a street vendor prompts a young boy to confront his own mortality in this multilayered memento mori from the Tokyo University of the Arts

An isometric view of colourful rectangular prisms arranged in abstract patterns.

Buoyed by a joyful score and Mirai Mizue's intricate draftsmanship, Dreamland is a narrative film in abstract clothing, a memorable blurring of the boundaries between animated genres.

A purple character in a dress rockets through the stars, orange flames shooting from their hands and legs.

A sci-fi fable in the vein of Italo Calvini's Cosmicomics, Matisse Gonzalez' film is a brief, breezy story built around an immediately intuitive metaphor

A man wearing only underpants sits on a chair, resting his chin on his hand. Most of his body is blue, as if he is filled with water. A cloud pokes through the window beside him. The rest of the room is brown and tan; a nearly leafless plant is on the opposite side of the room, and a mirror reflects a cluttered bookshelf.

Man on the Chair is a film focused on doubts, with a sense of uncertainty that goes beyond asking why we are here to whether we are here at all. Director Jeong Dahee doesn't seem especially interested in finding answers—it's the feeling of sitting within questions that seems to interest her.

Two pedestrians balanced on their heads in identical poses, facing opposite directions on a street corner.

Nata Metlukh pokes fun at social cues misfiring with a fun house-mirror reflection of our social incompetence

A DJ surrounded by various gear—turntables, tape decks, drum machines and speakers.

Looking back at Glucose four years later, it's easy to see why folks were so excited. For lack of a better word, and at the risk of sounding absurdly unhip, it just looks and sounds cool.

Two green hands and two line-drawing mouths on a background of slightly rumpled white paper, with pinkish splotches.

An animation that focuses on the subtle movements and rhythms that unconsciously happen at an owambe, a Nigerian street party. As people come together in joy, their hearts begin to beat to the same rhythm, as if united in happiness.

Close-up of two robots' heads staring each other down, the one on the left with afro-like coils of hair and a headband, the one on the right in a police riot helmet.

Kibwe Tavares' sci-fi short is far from your typical architecture school project, but his eye for the intersection of class, race, and the built environment is all over this film.

A strange, long-legged creature walks across a vast, barren landscape as the sun sits just below the horizon.

Even before seeing a frame of Erika Grace Strada's student short, the title brings some very specific imagery to mind. It suggests alien landscapes, strange creatures, and a healthy dose of cosmic horror—and it delivers most of that. The jaunty soundtrack dispels any sense of dread, but with a different score, the film's opening could easily set the stage for some true cosmic horror.

A flock of chimney swifts flies in the sky

A short documentary based on the writing of a real sweeper master, The Chimney Swift is whole lot bleaker than Mary Poppins' "Chim Chim Cheree" would lead you to believe

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 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.

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 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.

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 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.


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


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 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


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


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?

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