Film Forum

Disney shorts share complexity and realism

Short films such as the Oscar-winning “Paperman” show Disney Animation Studios as a leader in making emotion-filled shorts. Via Walt Disney.

Short films such as the Oscar-winning “Paperman” show Disney Animation Studios as a leader in making emotion-filled shorts. Via Walt Disney.

The simple world of a short film can be dense with symbols and overwhelming emotions. Quickly digging deep into a story, it seems, wouldn’t leave enough room to capture life’s complexity on screen.

Yet the world of Disney animated short films manages to do just that. The characters of the recent Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection live in painted houses where they do and feel the things that real people do. 

Fresno Filmworks will screen the Oscar-Nominated Short Films for the 11th straight year at the historic Tower Theater on February 12 & 13 where you can see what kind of bounty Disney and many other filmmakers bring to the cinematic table of short films. Here’s a glimpse of what Disney has shared in the past:

Last year’s Oscar winner for Best Animated Short Film, Feast made us feel a kaleidoscope of emotions merely by watching someone feed their dog. The food in the bowl changes as the owner’s lovelife changes. According to Disney’s website, director Patrick Osborne was inspired with this concept during the time he’d been taking one-second videos of the food he’d eaten for a month. He noticed a pattern connecting his meal choices to what was going on in his life. “I was interested in how the food alone could reveal that someone’s life situation has changed,” Osborne said.


Released in the informational era, Oscar winner for Best Animated Short Film in 2013, 
Paperman could not hit the spot any better. Through the black-and-white adventures of a man filling the entire city with paper planes, we see ourselves at work or on Instagram. Living in the world of startups we can no longer keep doing things the old way. We have to break millions of boxes in our mind to communicate our messages to the world and to be heard.

A. J. Bayes illustration, 1889

A. J. Bayes illustration, 1889

In the 2006 Oscar nominee  The Little Matchgirl, with the swing of a match we follow a poor girl on an imaginary journey to the essence of happiness—one simply has to be surrounded by love and comfort. Such an emotional contrast of hopelessness and home, grounds us to appreciate the simple pleasures we have.

Evoking emotion on a relatable background makes animated shorts an engaging film experience for a viewer, and Disney shorts are some of the best at such evocation.

Olga Verkhotina lives in Moscow where she works as a public relations coordinator for the Clinique brand at Estée Lauder Companies. A former Filmworks marketing intern, she still enjoys volunteering even though she lives 10 time zones away.

Every second Friday of the month, Fresno Filmworks screens first-run independent and international movies at the historic Tower Theatre.