5.) Uyir (2015)
Directed by: Danan Thilakanathan / Duration: 10 minutes / Thilakanathan Studios
“Uyir is an emotional 3D animated short film about a loving grandfather and granddaughter. Things take a nasty turn when masked men enter his house and take him away to an unknown place. He must find his way back to his granddaughter but all is not what it seems!”
This is one of the few shorts I found on Amazon Video that feature people of color AND a POC director. Uyir is a gorgeous short that features an adorable loving grandpa and his young granddaughter. It masterfully tells a touching and ultimately much-layeryed story in a impressive ten-minute time frame. There are detailed interior and exteriors shots. The music works well and there is a great element of suspense that complements the film as well.
The single flaw is the jerkiness of the camera — a sort of stop-start motion that I’m guessing was supposed to add to the dream-like quality of the film. It stopped me in my tracks and almost made me stop watching a few minutes in. While the ending proved it a fantastic short, this feature lessened its quality for me, making want to reach for a Tylenol as I watched the buffering-like stop-start motion distract me from the overall product.
4.) Something Left, Something Taken (2010)
Directed by: Ru Kuwahata, Max Porter/ Duration: 10 minutes/ Tiny Inventions
“Everyone who enters a crime scene leaves something behind and takes something away. “Something Left, Something Taken” is an animated dark comedy about a vacationing couple’s encounter with a man they believe to be the Zodiac Killer.”
With a premise that off the bat sounds just a little morbid, Something Left, Something Taken is a fun yet daring romp of a animated short that is nothing short of impressive. Amid Amidi from Cartoon Brew points out that the creative team use “nearly every trick in the bag to make this including stop-motion, pixilation, drawn animation on paper, After Effects, Flash and live-action puppets.” Husband-and-wife team of Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata created a animated short that is as ambitious as it is worth its weight in gold for all the awards it received. It pulled off everything it set out to do. What else is to love other than the animation? The element of suspense that makes watching a gripping experience! The comedic timing! Ru and Max’s personalities coming through their puppeted animated selves! The education of forensic science! Love, Love, Love this hilarious short and this is a good entry point for newer fans of this amazing duo as they’re still creating amazing work. There’s even a great behind-the-scenes video about how this film was made that I’d highly suggest watching, which details the artistic processes and adds commentary from Ru and Max.
3.) Barko (2010)
Directed by: Allison Craig / Duration: 7 minutes/ Tit Mouse Shorts
Barko is a lonely, unloved, and abused dog who has established himself as the unwilling clown of a circus run by poodles. His seemingly random fear of hot dogs is rationalized by flashbacks conveying a former owner who occupies his time tormenting the poor pup with the processed snack…”
Get your tissues ready. This short features a dog trying to make some lemonade out of the lemons that have been repeatedly thrown at him. He’s a circus dog in a traveling troupe of poodles that do the absolute most and are flashy AF in their performances. The flashbacks are weaved in perfectly to help demonstrate why this little doggo is withdrawn and traumatized in how he reacts to different stimuli and objects. YET he still goes out and tries his best even thought it’s obvious this is a high risk environment and not one he’ll grow in. The film does a great job at creating and maintaining the mood of any particular scene. Some of the best examples of these are when Barko has his moments of fright and tension — you’re right there in his non-existent shoes. The heart of this short is watching this character just ride the struggle bus — watching Barko endure hit after hit. There is an emotionally satisfying payoff in the end. It should be clear that 1.) no dogs die in this short and 2.) children are evil. Don’t ever forget. Superb job, Allison Craig.
2.) Water Path For A Fish (2016)
Directed by: Mercedes Marro / Duration: 8 minutes / Folimage Studios
“It’s a starry night in a poor neighborhood in Latin America. Oscar is sleeping in his room when a sudden wind wakes him up. From his window he sees… a little goldfish jumping in a dirty puddle! Two cats are watching from the shadows. Oscar will try to save the goldfish through a rampant adventure full of mysterious challenges in a night Latin American, with the lack of water as a backdrop.”
Camino de Agua Para Un Pez, Water Path for A Fish in English, is the most family-friendly animated film on this list and one younger viewers will have the easiest time following and thus enjoying. Its simplified story doesn’t mean I’m saying it’s dumbed down. In fact, it strikes me as very creative how the team was able to flesh out an engaging story about a little boy and his fish to involve nearly the whole neighborhood, while also making a story the audiences could care about. I’m a big fan of storytellers crafting stories that succeed in reaching inside us and connecting with us. This animated film does just that. Also noteworthy is counting this short as the one with the most popping soundtrack, one that you want to dance to! Watch it on the Festival Iberoamericano de Cortometrajes ABC website if you don’t have Amazon Prime!
1.) The Maker (2011)
Directed by: Christopher Kezelo / Duration: 5 minutes/ Zealous Creative
“A strange creature races against time to make the most important and beautiful creation of his life. “
With a tagline of “Life is what you make it”, this stop-motion short left me shook. I was so emotionally invested in only five minutes. I’m not going to lie, the strange and creepy rabbit creature almost made me pass but I embraced the weird and pressed play. This is another wife-and-husband duo here doing it big: Christopher and Christine Kezelos aren’t newbies to the animation game. This short actually spawned a sequel in book form. The viewer is engaged seconds in and doesn’t let go with an intensity that can’t be denied. Not only is this the shortest film on this list, this is the film to best use music as a tool in guiding its narrative. The classical music is uptempo in moments and draggingly slow in others assuredly. Before you know it your heart will be racing in sync to this rabbit creature’s plight and whether it can pull off its creation in time. This is a well-crafted story that hits you in all the right places. Visually it is a stunner.
These are my favorites, for my fellow Prime members, what are yours? I’d love to read about your picks, leave them in the comments below!
Note: It’s come to my attention that you may not be able to watch some or all of these given what country you reside in, check with your Amazon account and see which ones are available. If all else fails, I’ve provided links to the creatives and their studios/productions. Lastly with a Amazon Prime account these should be free to watch.
A version of this post appears here.