INDIEWATCH: Got 12 minutes? Here are 8 animated shorts just for you
Perfect for an ever-decreasing attention span or the need for a quick meal with a side of escapism.
Don’t have time to watch a movie? An animated short might be just the ticket.
These micro cartoons are traditionally 40 minutes or less, but often shorter — perfect for an ever-decreasing attention span or the need for a quick meal with a side of escapism.
Animated shorts also offer exposure to a range of voices as they allow filmmakers, established or not, freedom to tackle different topics and experiment with styles.
If you’re in the mood for something bite-sized and easily digestible, here are eight mini films to consume in 12 minutes or less.
Recently released with Pixar’s “Soul,” “Burrow” follows a rabbit’s encounter with neighboring moles, mice and more as she attempts to dig her way to a place of her own.
Written and directed by Madeline Sharafian (“Coco”), this shorty is a delightful fable with hand-drawn animation, reminiscent of storybooks from days past with a sincere moral to boot.
“Burrow” is a prime example of something that’s made for kiddos with a pleasant side effect of comfort for adults. 6 minutes. Rated G.
Available: Disney Plus
A young girl fails to connect with her stifled grandfather until the power of art kicks in.
Written and directed by Frank E. Abney III (“Toy Story 4,” “The Incredibles 2”), this nine-minute mini-film mixes animation styles.
One section is composed of great detail — grass, hair and freckles — and the next is a colored-pencil and water-color motif, telling in its simplicity.
Like old silent movies, or the minutes-long sequence of “Up,” “Canvas” is devoid of dialogue, so you’re effectively left with your emotions, the images and the music, which makes for an even richer experience. 9 minutes. Rated G.
“Cops and Robbers”
Timothy Ware-Hill’s spoken word poetry video about Ahmaud Arbery — who was targeted and killed by two white men while jogging in his hometown.
This shorty mixes allusions to universal childhood imagery with stark reality.
“I wanna go back to …
When kids played doctor and gave out cootie shots.
Now kids get shot whether they hide their hands or not.
Chalk-outlined bodies, instead of chalk for hopscotch.”
Ware-Hill’s delivery is both emphatic with his message and light with nostalgia, effectively inserting airy and innocent giggles with the latter and a booming voice with the former. The visual and auditory storytelling mixes claymation, hand-drawn and digital with tracks of children laughing and gunshots.
Powerful and affecting, this is a must-see. 7 minutes. PG-13
An intimidated father grapples with fixing his daughter’s hair for the first time.
This one is sans dialogue, too, save for that of a hair vlogger, which makes space for the sentiment and emotion to rise.
“BlacKkKlansman” producer Matthew A. Cherry won a Best Animated Short Oscar last year for this, and well worth it, for this superbly executed look at identity, self-esteem, culture and family.
Since its debut, this short has led to a children’s book (the audiobook is narrated by Blue Ivy Carter); and it is now set to become an HBO Max TV series.
Watch it without crying; I dare you. 6:47. Rated G.
Available: Sony Pictures Animation, YouTube
“If Anything Happens, I Love You”
Tension rises between a man and a woman over the dinner table, and what slowly unfolds are poignant manifestations of grief and depression and a message that’s not easily forgotten.
Writer Will McCormack (“Toy Story 4”) pairs with producer and actress Laura Dern, and relative directing/producing newbie Michael Govier for this one.
“If Anything Happens, I Love You” has been nominated for, and won, several independent film awards, including the Los Angeles Animation Festival, the Edmonton International Film Festival.
Let’s see about this year’s Oscars. 12 minutes. Rated PG.
Two generations of men knock heads as they try to teach a young boy the ropes.
This one is all levity and magic, as adult characters communicate with animal-like grunts and murmurs, filling the animated night sky with noise and busyness.
The music is emotive and simple with an acoustic guitar and more stringed instruments.
Writer/director Enrico Casarosa (“Up”) said in an interview that this Oscar-nominated short is based on his relationship with his father and grandfather while growing up in Italy. 6 minutes. Rated G.
Available: Disney Plus
“Sanjay’s Super Team”
A young boy tries to reconcile his love of cartoons with his father’s desire to introduce him to their cultural Hindu traditions.
Animator Sanjay Patel (“Incredibles” movies) pulled from his experiences and imagination for this Oscar-nominated shorty. And the filmmakers studied ancient Indian dance traditions to accurately portray deity movements.
This is high-level animation and editing, very sophisticated effects. Topped with real-life photos of Patel and his father, this one is saturated with heart and sincerity. 7 minutes. Rated PG.
"Silent" is a three-minute shout-out to movie-makers through the ages. In it, two street performers take refuge in a theater, where they start a journey through history.
This is from the minds of Limbert Fabian (“I Am A Witness”) and Brandon Oldenburg, who snagged an Oscar in the Best Animated Short category for “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.”
It’s not groundbreaking, but it’s a morsel that leaves cinematic gratitude for this industry’s storytellers. 3 minutes. TV-Y.
Melinda Lavine is a features reporter and movie reviewer for the News Tribune. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.