Haven’t heard of the famed Gobelins L’École de L’Image? This tiny Parisian school has culled the crème de la crème of animation for over 40 years, fostering the future of the art form, and the artists who innovate it.
Graduates go on to work for some of the biggest animation institutions out there, including Pixar, DreamWorks (Bibo Bergeron, The Road To El Dorado) and Universal (Pierre Coffin, director, Despicable Me). Their work also frequently snags top honors at the Annecy International Film Festival, one of the largest celebrations of achievement in animation in the world.
Every year, Gobelins graces us with the stellar animated short films from seasoned students. Here’s a look at some of our favorites:
Co-Directed By: Julien Bocabeille, François-Xavier Chanioux, Olivier Delabarre, Thierry Marchand, Quentin Marmier, Emud Mokhberi
We have to start with perhaps the most famous of all Gobelins student films. This whimsical short went on to receive several accolades, including “Best of Show” at SIGGRAPH, and an Academy Award nomination for “Best Animated Short (Film)” in 2009.
Related: Oktapodi from France’s Gobelins School
The storytelling and engrossing style transcend the last decade to remind you why it won so many awards when it was released. Romantic, funny, adventurous, playful — you’ll want someone to fight for by the end of this character-building romp.
Co-Directed By: Nicholas Olivieri, Shen Yi, Juliana De Lucca, Varun Nair, David Feliu
Released in 2018, the dark, twisted, sci-fi short Best Friends was quick to receive recognition, snagging the award for “Best Student Film” at the 2019 Annie Awards.
The roughly six-minute film is centered around one lonely man’s experience with “Best Friend,” a futuristic technology that creates virtual companions for those that use it. Sound is used as a powerful tool to create a sense of chaos and contrast as the main character shifts between the real world and his virtual life. The story itself also serves as uniquely dystopian commentary on the addictive relationships people have (or could have) with technology.
Le Royaume (The King and the Beaver)
Co-Directed by: De Nuno Alves-Rodrigues, Oussama Bouacheria, Julien Chheng, Aymeric Kevin, Sébastien Hary, Franck Monier, Ulysse Malassagne
Le Royaume is a fantastical tale that takes a page out of Disney’s book, with clear maneuvering of the multiplaning technique that brought depth and dimension to early animated classics like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. There’s hardly any dialogue in this tale. Instead, rich, vibrant imagery, larger-than-life character design, and compelling music drive the narrative for this short. The narrative itself is a powerful one; communicating the relationship between humans and nature, and how one man’s actions can disrupt the delicate balance.
Le Royaume is one of the most-watched Gobelins student films on YouTube, with over 1.4 million views. It’s also received a number of accolades.
Co-Directed by: Pierre Perifel, Olivier Staphylas, Marco Nguyen, Xavier Ramonède, Rémi Zaarour
An older Gobelins film for sure, but this hilarious short deserves a nod because of the serious talent behind it. After his tenure at Gobelins, Perifel went on to become an Annie Award-recognized animator for DreamWorks (nominated for Kung Fu Panda 2, winner for Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Furious Five).
What’s fantastic about Le Building is that it clearly shows that you don’t need a lot of time to tell an engaging story. With a 1:15 minute run time, you’re engaged (and laughing) the entire way.
Hors de l’eau
Co-Directed by: Simon Duong van Huyen , Joël Durand, Thibault Leclercq, Valentin Lucas, Andrei Sitari
I got chills watching this short film — and not because it’s set on a freezing, snowy mountainside. This roughly eight-minute tale is told through the eyes of a female macaque as she struggles to care for her child as a member of a hostile monkey tribe. The first-person angle and haunting scenery give you an almost Kubrick vibe during the opening sequences. There’s no dialogue here, but deliberate action — and deliberate pacing — keep you on edge the entire time. The film was recently named as a contender for the Animafest Zagreb 2019.
Au Moulin Rouge
Co-Directed by: Pierre-Marie Adnet, Coralie Bruschi, Mylène Cominotti, Tristan Poulain, Alessandro Vergonnier, Shen Yi.
Au Moulin Rouge is an overwhelming glimpse of vulnerability and strength as a woman summons her courage to audition for the Moulin Rouge in 1950.
Dripping with emotion displayed through stark realism, this 74-second animation features everything from a childhood flashback during a WWII bombing raid, to fluid costume changes as the girl transforms from shy survivor to empowered burlesque performer with daunting presence and grace. Hemingway would approve of the raw emotion, bold truth, and quintessential brevity.
Co- Directed by: De Alice Bissonnet, Aloyse Desoubries Binet, Sandrine Hanji Kuang, Juliette Laurent, Sophie Markatatos
This delightful short about a young woman struggling to overcome shyness has made a splash on YouTube, garnering more than 1.7 million views. It’s lighthearted, funny, and deeply relatable — a perfect recipe for compelling animation.
Nightmare In The Morning
Directed by: Yonatan Tal; Song writer: Abby Lyons; Singer: Natalie Perez; Music production: Daniel Markovich
This short animated music video makes the list because it made history. Yonatan’s Tal’s Nightmare In The Morning was the first-ever student film to be televised on Disney XD. Tal created the film while studying as a CalArts student abroad at Gobelins, making it a true partnership between two of the most highly-acclaimed animation schools in the world. The film was also named a top pick from Vimeo.
Only time will tell what these Gobelins graduates go on to do next, but after seeing these brief glimpses of what they can do with animated shorts, we can’t wait to watch it.