Find the top animation shorts of 2019, as voted by animation professionals.
We did it again. After the successful run of the 2016 top animation shorts at Zippy Frames (where Blind Vaysha by Theodore Ushev and Nighthawk by Spela Cadez shared the top honours), we asked animation professionals worldwide to pick up their 4 top animation choices for 2019 (2 professional animation shorts, 2 student shorts) for the best animation shorts.
26 animation professionals had to choose from films that were screened in a competitive festival screening or a panorama section (but not tributes or retrospectives) during 2019, and they had to give their reasoning (so films produced in 2018 would also qualify). All techniques were eligible, as well as all kinds of animation films (films for children, experimental, narrative etc.).
Another requirement proved to be trickier. All participants could not choose a film in which they were directly involved in a primary role (director, screenwriter, art director, producer, distributor, school director/tutor). So, in effect we asked our voters to vote 'against their own interest' in a way and not choose the films they represent. The reasoning behind this was simple.
At Zippy Frames, we care for the idea of the independent animation community: promotion of your own work is justifiable and welcome, but equally desirable is the need to connect with your peers. And we wanted this connection in terms of appreciating one another, highlighting the achievements of others, and declaring this in public. Just say it's part of an animation film culture, which involves everyone.
This is the reason we did not isolate ourselves to just animation experts; we also included in our voting pool young and more experienced directors, festival programmers and directors. Huge thanks to everyone who participated.
Participants (in alphabetical order):
Milen Alempijevic (Artistic director of Intl. animation festival ANIMANIMA, Serbia), Kieran Argo (Animation Programmer - Encounters Festival), Olga Bobrowska (StopTrik IFF Festival Director), Spela Cadez (animation director), Olivier Catherin (Producer), Shaun Clark (Animation Director), Fabian Driehorst (Distributor, Fabian & Fred), Nancy Denney-Phelps (Animation Journalist/Historian), Petrit Gora (art director, Anibar), Mikhail Gurevich (film/animation critic/scholar), Pavel Horáček (Anifilm programme director), Piotr Kardas (Program Director O!PLA, CRAFT, Rising of Lusitania) Daria Kashcheeva (Director -Animator), Agnieszka Kowalewska-Skowron (Momakin - Animarkt), Uri Kranot (filmmaker), Kropka (aka J.S. Álvarez, Festival & Programme Director, ReAnima), Anders Narverud Moen (Festival Director Fredrikstad Animation Festival), Anna Ida Orosz (Programme director, Primanima World Festival of First Animations, Hungary), Jelena Popovic (Producer / NFB), Igor Prassel (Animateka International Animated Film Festival Program Director), Daniel Šuljić (filmmaker and artistic director World festival of animated film Animafest ZAGREB),Yiorgos Tsangaris (artistic director, Animafest Cyprus), Péter Vácz (animation director), Karin Vandenrydt (programmer, Anima Brussels), Tünde Vollenbroek (Animation producer, curator and journalist), Steven Woloshen (filmmaker).
61 number of films were voted in the two categories, 31 for professional shorts and 30 for students shorts.
1-7 Top Professional Shorts
1. Acid Rain, Tomek Popakul (Animoon), Poland 2018 ACID RAIN is set in post-industrial Eastern Europe and follows a young woman who runs away from her depressing hometown. That’s how she meets Skinny – a kind of unstable weirdo who lives in a camper and runs his not-so-legal errands. Their journey gradually leads them towards more and more eerie settings, revealing the attraction and repulsion of rave culture.
-Outstanding writing, perfectly fitting unique style - Fabian Driehorst
-One of the best scripted animated shorts i saw in many years. Great use of UGLY animation aesthetics to tell a story of a stoned and self-centered generation - Igor Prassel
-With its disturbing atmosphere, movements and innovative images, Acid Rain skillfully tells a story on border between reality and LSD trip, about learning to avoid to make the same mistake twice. The film takes us on a fantastic cinematic journey rendered at a perfect pace. Though there are other great films out there this one absolutely stands out in 2019. -Daniel Šuljić
-For its 26 too short minutes of rain sprawling relentlessly into other liquids before slumbering in an acid puddle on the road. Exquisite trip, tale and annals of an era, all at once.- Jelena Popovic
-Poignant, bold, refreshing, compelling, menacing. Daring yet functional style - in short, excellent cinema- Karin Vanderydt
-A strong and convincing film language. The great example, when imperfect technique works perfectly for the story and creates the feeling of being lost and broken. Perfect and brave timing. The next step in the animated short film. - Daria Kashcheeva
2. The Physics of Sorrow, Theodore Ushev (National Film Board of Canada), 2019. The Physics of Sorrow tracks an unknown man’s life as he sifts through memories of his youth in Bulgaria through to his increasingly rootless and melancholic adulthood in Canada.
-Beautiful, very personal and upsetting. It’s a film that stays in your mind forever - Olivier Catherin
-Utterly moving piece of filmmaking- Shaun Clark
- Pioneering technique, atmosphere, thematic depth, authenticity of its emotional content - Yiorgos Tsangaris
- An extraordinary mastery of image, sound, technique, storytelling resulting in a very moving and melancholic film. I enjoyed every second of the full 27 minutes. - Karin Vanderydt
3. Egg, Martina Scarpelli (MIYU Productions, LATELOVE Production), France/ Denmark 2018 A woman is locked in her home with an egg. She eats the egg, she repents. She kills it. She lets the egg die of hunger.
- a gorgeous, gripping animated short that does what animation does best: evoke strong feelings through visual metaphors - Tünde Vollenbroek
- The beautiful hand drawn animation is in stark contrast to the horror of the film's subject, a woman's fight with her own body - Nancy Denney-Phelps
Intimate story with disturbing and ascetic image and sound - Agnieszka Kowalewska-Skowron
- Five Minutes to Sea, Natalia Mirzoyan (Peterburg Animation Studio), Russia 2018. The mother issues her decree: before you get back in the water, you have to take a break and sit quietly for five minutes.
- Natalia has captured the feeling we all had as a child that time passes so slowly when we are waiting for something. The film portrays a child's impatience to get back into the ocean when her mother orders her to rest for 5 minutes with an elderly couple who feel that time is rushing past them. All of this in beautiful watercolour - Nancy Denney- Phelps
- Beyond and beneath the plot-line, freshly touching in itself, - a pointed instrumental meditation on time and timing; and in execution - a rather sharp cross between the sketchy and the polished - Mikhail Gurevich
- A lovely relaxing observational film that transports you to the seaside on a summer's day and conjures up all the sensations that go with it. It watches life go by without imposing any overwhelming interpretation - Kieran Argo
- I'm going out for cigarettes, Osman Cerfon (MIYU Productions), France 2018. Jonathan, twelve years old, lives with his sister, his mother and also some men. They all have the same face and nest in closets, drawers, TV set…
-The fresh and a bit naive visual style the raw and real family situation made this film really joyful to watch. later I realized it’s from the guy who made Sticky ending. It makes sense... It’s a great film too - Péter Vácz
-Just a very complete film, nice visual, good use of animation to tell the story and really well scripted. Funny and serious at the same time. - Anders Narverud Moen
-A deeply touching, intimate portrait of a family, full of excellent observations. Witty, wise and not and not obvious in the slightest - Piotr Kardas
6. DONT KNOW WHAT, Thomas Renolnder, Austria 2019. a slapstick avantgarde film
-For knowing what and "how much entertainment is possible in avantgarde film, and how much experimentation in animation - Jelena Popovic
- Not often an experimental film can amuse an audience. Even more rarely, an artist experimenting with the medium has a distance to himself and his art. Thomas Renoldner did it perfectly! Captivating lightness and precision of workmanship. A friendly shake hands with the contemporary viewer, and at the same time an intelligent dialogue with the history of experimental cinema. Contrary to the title DON'T KNOW WHAT knows perfectly well what it is doing! - Piotr Kardas
-Mr. Mare, Luca Tóth (Boddah / Sacrebleu Productions), Hungary 2019. Looking at an x-ray image, a young handsome man is horrified to learn that the weird, tumor-like lump on his chest is the top of a tiny plump man`s head. Nested in his body, he is waiting to be born…
-Filled with Luca Tóth's emblematic odd, intense, wobbling characters, and presented with sensual and dreamlike colors, "Mr. Mare" is a surreal depiction of an everyday story. It is a bizarre and relatable chamber drama about the longing for attention and the melancholy of unrequited love - Anna Ida Orosz
1-7 Top Student Shorts
1. Daughter, Daria Kashcheeva (FAMU/ MAUR Film), Czech Republic 2019. In a hospital room, the Daughter recalls a childhood moment when as a little girl she tried to share her experience with an injured bird with her Father.
-Touching and important theme conceived in an unprecedented style. The film has and will have a huge impact not only on Czech animation. For "industry" in our country it is terribly important milestone - Pavel Horáček
-The purity of the technique and the mastery of the visual language make it impossible to look away even for a second. Pure talent. From the first frame it catches you until it ends and leaves you amazed - Kropka
-'Daughter' is a superb stop motion puppet film that works on so many levels. I was pleasantly surprised to see such depth and detail and powerful story-telling in this top quality graduation film - Kieran Argo
-Daughter is a touching story of a grown daughter finally coming to terms with her father, but what makes this PM exceptional for me is Daria's ability to bring her puppet's alive. There are places in the film, such as when Daughter was walking up the stairs, that I thought were CG at first, but they are indeed well crafted puppet shots - Nancy Denney-Phelps
-Not because it got the student Oscar, but because it is daring on all levels and it brings stop motion puppet animation to a higher level. Can't wait to see Daria Kashcheeva professional debut film! - Igor Prassel
-A quiet, soulful and sensitive education for the filmmaker and the audience - Steven Woloshen
2. Sounds Good, Sander Joon (Estonian Academy of Arts), Estonia 2018. Boom operator is trying to record the sound of mushrooms.
-Because it sounds good…Anders Narverud Moen
-Sander has a unique sensibility for timing and sound, visualised in such awkward beauty - Uri Kranot
-Visually fresh and hilarious. As a mushroom lover I must say that it is an exhaustive work of imagination and aesthetic-artistic references. The best animated sarcasm I've seen in a long time. - Kropka
-Visual symphony for people with misophonia - Agnieszka Kowalewska-Skowron
3. Sister, Siqi Song (CalArts), China/US, 2018. A man remembers his childhood memory of growing up with an annoying little sister in 1990s China. How would his life have been if things had gone differently
-Great storytelling and extraordinary use of animation - Fabian Driehorst
-An original and yet accessible film for wide audience. It is technically and narratively perfectly mastered - Pavel Horáček
-Superb animation with fantastic puppets and sets. This film is both moving and thought provoking piece of filmmaking - Shaun Clark
4. Entropia by Flóra Anna Buda (MOME Animation), Hungary 2019. Entropia is a container encompassing three parallel universes where three women are living in different circumstances.
-Complex and beautiful film by Buda, next visual gem from Mome and Hungary where a whole wave of super talented women are setting new standards in short animation and some of them just graduated. Exciting times in Budapest - Daniel Šuljić
- I did not understand that film but loved every second of it - Uri Kranot
- Marbles, Natalia Spychała (National Film School in Łódź), Poland 2019. Hypnotizing pendulum sets a particular mechanism in motion. A figure appearing fragmentarily, space and a variety of objects form a rhythmic system of mutual dependence.
-Outstanding execution of the technical concept and an ability to translate a complex metaphor into immersing visuality - Olga Bobrowska
- An audiovisual experience about everyday life, made using simple but not obvious methods - Piotr Kardas
- My Little Goat, Tomoki Misato
-Very impressive and innovative. Both heir of traditional Czech stop motion animation and at the same time decidedly unique and modern - Olivier Catherin
-Strong film about a horrifying topic - child's abuse - told as nightmarish version of a Wolf and seven goats fairy tale. A student film! Just great! - Daniel Šuljić
- The Little Soul, Barbara Rupik (National Film School in Łódź), Poland 2019 A dead body became stuck by a river bank. Its decaying insides still hide a human soul - a miniature of the deceased.
-Astonishing technique. Incompatible senses of fragility, concurrently cleanliness and impurity, expectations and hopeless, inevitable disaster. The feelings you couldn’t explain complete amazing work with sound and music - Daria Kashcheeva
-An extremely rich and artistic animation of the human body out on the journey to the posthumous world - Igor Prassel
Professional Shorts 8-31 (alphabetically)
- A Cat is Always Female, Martina Mestrovic, Tanja Vujasinović (Croatia): For opening up a multi-layered discussion on intersection of documentary and animation qualities that convey an in-depth reflection on art creation and reception, a highly significant subject that finds new resolution thanks to locating it within the gender and feminism contexts - Olga Bobrowska
- Agouro, David Doutel and Vasco Sá (Portugal): proposed by Petrit Gora
- Cosmonaut, Kaspar Jancis (Estonia): masterful story-telling. This is an allegory for the political shifts of a whole era -Yiorgos Tsangaris
- Farce, Robin Jensen (Norway): A fearful revenge story, a Sami version of the travel of Odysseus. Fun, beautiful and gross. - Anders Narverud Moen
- Flood - Malte Stein (Germany): Another film in a world on it's own, showing horror of growing up in a frustrated i-am-a-victim mother controlled environment full of psychological harassment, suppressed violence, emotional black-mails, bulling.. With one word, a theme which is not being mentioned often, a portrait of worlds somewhere out there where flood grabs you by the throat and traps you behind privacy of locked flat doors and windows - Daniel Šuljić
- Girl in the Hallway,Valerie Barnhart (Canada): A wonderful oeuvre speaking to our hopes and outrage - Steven Woloshen
- Guaxama, Nara Normande (France / Brazil): Honest and direct, with such a perfect choice of animation technique(s ) to tell a story from the heart - Uri Kranot
- Gun Shop, Patrick Smith (US): An effective and well positioned provocative film - Steven Woloshen
- Impossible Figures and Other Stories III, Marta Pajek (Poland): for capturing blissfulness of desires and irreversible transformations of the mind-set with the means of a simple line that constructs ever-evolving, constantly expanding and shockingly dissolving most intimate structures - Olga Bobrowska
- Kids/ Michael Frei (Swtizerland): For it's whimsical subversive statement , in the disguise of an infantile film - Uri Kranot
- Lah Gah, Cécile Brun (Swtizerland): Without becoming sentimental, through the combination of classical drawing-on-paper and experimental abstract animation, the film evokes the unimaginable trauma of losing a loved one, which causes the feeling of suffocative helplessness - Anna Ida Orosz
- Mémorable, Bruno Collet (France): Bruno Collet made a masterpiece, from the technique, the narrative and the subject it deals with. It is a powerful and sensitive animated exercise. Simple and complex, which is difficult not to connect - Kropka
- Mind My Mind, Floor Adams (The Netherlands): a beautiful hand-drawn animation looking at the interior mind of an autistic child. A very strong visual film with a story worth telling - Kieran Argo
- My Generation, Ludovic Houplain (France): A dramatic visual storytelling as a sharp critic of world nowadays - Milen Alempijevic
- Purpleboy, Alexandre Siquiera (Portugal): A necessary and very honest work. It leaves me with one of the scenes that I will remember most in the animated cinema - Kropka
- Roses in the night, Pencho Kunchev (Bulgaria): This film kept amazing me in every five seconds until it lasted. a playful, erotic, fairytale journey - Péter Vácz
- Selfies, Claudius Gentinetta (Switzerland): A seemingly simple move/device witty-dramatically sublimated into the (almost phantasmagorical) outlook of times and mores - Mikhail Gurevich
- Si So Mi, Zhang Xu-Zhan (Taiwan): takes you through an absurd, magical ritual around death. I can't quite explain it, but am completely intrigued by it -Tünde Vollenbroek
- Raymond or the vertical escape, Sarah Van Den Boom (France): A bittersweet tale about the deepest feelings of a genuine woman - Milen Alempijevic
- Roughhouse, Jonathan Hodgson (UK): Gritty and visceral in its style and narrative. Roughhouse is a cautionary tale with great animated performances and guts - Shaun Clark
- The Fall, Boris Labbé (France): An immersive cinematographic experience that is not disconnected from reality but linked directly to our present and quite likely the future - Pavel Horáček
- The Rain, Piotr Milczarek: a simple idea turned into a great film with clever storytelling spiced with good humor and irony - Péter Vácz
- Uncle Thomas, Accounting for the Days - Regina Pessoa: A very tender and moving portrait, magnified by a beautiful and inventive animation - Olivier Catherin
- Winter In the Rainforest, Anu-Laura Tuttelberg (Estonia): Surrealistic combination of techniques, authenticity of film, delicate sound and music create such a tender and magic world you want to escape - Daria Kashcheeva
Student shorts 8-30 (alphabetically):
- A Demonstration of Brilliance in Four Acts, Lucija Mrzljak, Morten Tšinakov (Estonia): Quite an interesting intersection of Croatian and Estonian schools/traditions, in design and in narrative structuring; guardedly refined graphics; absurdly-logical deep-dark-sharp humor - Mikhail Gurevich
- Adorable, Cheng-Hsu Chung (UK): proposed by Spela Cadez
- After, Matouš Valchář (Czech Republic): Just wonderful - Steven Woloshen
- An eye for an eye, Julia Ploch (Poland): for a consistency in merging a slowly-evolving, surreal storytelling with a daring imagery suspended between sophisticated phantasmagory and pop-cultural echoes - Olga Bobrowska
- Animals, Tue Sanggaard (Denmark): Perfectly crafted 3D in service of an illustration of the Latin saying Homo homini lupus est - Milen Alempijevic
- Applesauce, Alexander Gratzer (Austria) - proposed by Petrit Gora
- Bear With Me, Daphna Awadish (Israel): opens up a tough subject through a sweet and soft tone of voice, with a visual style and technique that beautifully fits the story - Tünde Vollenbroek
- Blieschow, Christoph Sarow (Germany): use of color and believable, precise observation of youth - Fabian Driehorst
- Facing it, Sam Gainsborough (UK): a mature coming-of-age film that inspires people to express their own emotions, as well as see other people’s emotions - Péter Vácz
- Flight of Monochrome feathers, Arash Akhgari (Canada): A mature, poetic film by a young filmmaker, that celebrates the uniqueness of Iranian culture - Yiorgos Tsanagaris
- Flower Found!, Jorn Leeuwerink (The Netherlands): had me laughing and crying for about a dozen times since I first saw it. It combines macabre and cute, and adds a portion of sharp social commentary - Tünde Vollenbroek
- Good Intentions, Anna Mantzaris (Sweden): Dark story in a fuzzy puppet world. Anna Mantazaris establish her as a great storyteller with her stop-motion films - Anders Narverud Moen
- Grand Bassin, Héloïse Courtois, Victori Jalabert, Chloé Plat, Adèle Raigneau (France): For its innocent sexiness, its playful volumes, perspectives and scales, and its unpretentious poetic observations of social behaviors - all acoustically magnified, just like underwater - Jelena Popovic
- Gravedad, Matisse Gonzalez Jordan (Germany): For its tenderness, and economy, in depicting happiness and its opposite - Jelena Popovic
- Hide 'n' Seek, Barbora Halířová (Czech Republic): Utterly wise, touching and sensitive film - Anna Ida Orosz
- Hors Piste, Léo Brunel, Loris Cavalier, Camille Jalabert, Oscar Malet (France): well made big fun entertainment - Karin Vanderydt
- Inanimate, Lucia Bulgheroni (UK): Going beyond the frame this story explores the role and thoughts of the animator blurring the worlds of animation and reality - Shaun Clark
- Jacques' rampage or when do we lose our self-confidence (Hungary): Puzzled animated black&white world overwhelmed by Jacques Tati’s light humor - Milen Alempijevic
- Music and Clowns, Alex Widdowson (UK): a poignant subjective family documentary of someone with Down's Syndrome - Kieran Argo
- Poetika Anima, Kristina Saganova (Slovakia): a sensitive artist, a dreamer, who stands out in her personal style - Yiorgos Tsangaris
- Sweet Night, Lia Bertels (Belgium): The characters charmed me and the backgrounds were lovely. I was taken into the magical night of the sleepless little bear like creature and his monkey friend who go in search of food and make an amazing discovery - Nancy Denney-Phelps
- West Question, East Answer by Dal Park (Germany): Such abstract notions described by sociology, as the generational gap, or the East–West dichotomy become personal and tangible in this 6-minute-long little gem. Based on a recorded interview with the filmmaker's own grandma, this short film is an amusing, heartfelt, and to-the-point depiction of the hardships and complexity one faces when attempting to learn about his or her own roots - Anna Ida Orosz
- You are Overreacting, Karina Paciorkowska (Poland): A strong visual reflection of reality, which surrounds women in everyday life. Strong massage and reflection of our world from women perspective is need to be said aloud - Daria Kashcheeva