5 Jaw-Dropping Animated Shorts From Gobelins in 2016Shawn Forno 12.14.2016
Certain schools tower above the rest. Every art has its Everest—an institution that consistently attracts and develops top-tier talent that shapes the industry at large. Music has Juilliard, engineering has MIT, the visual arts have RISD. And animation, particularly animated shorts? Animation has Gobelins. Haven’t heard of the famed L’École de L’Image? This tiny Parisian school has culled the crème de la crème for the past 30 years, admitting just 25 students into its animation department out of over 850 applicants.
Graduates go on to Pixar, DreamWorks, Warner Bros., and Annecy, where they often snap up the top prizes atthe world’s largest animated film festival. Professors include greats like Glen Keane, animator for much of theDisney Renaissance, including The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and Tarzan.
Every year, Gobelins graces us with the stellar animated short films of its graduating class (2007’s graduate shortOktapodi was even nominated for an Academy Award). Here’s a look at five of the best animated shorts from 2016.
Two children wander along foggy seaside cliffs animated in simple wide view landscape shots dripping with expectant calm. Sparse dialogue—the short only has three spoken lines—and a monotonous soundtrack of vocal chanting only heightens the ominous intensity as one child mysteriously vanishes. Or does she?
Beautiful, transformative light in all its many forms is the star of this enchanting short. The viewer is taken on a 1-minute tour of a small town cafe as it trundles through its day—seen primarily through the effect that shifting light has on the same setting: morning, noon, evening, and night.
Bookended by the proprietor cranking open the shades to let in the pure morning light, the cafe transforms from bustling morning diners and coffee swillers, to the languid fading evening, and finally to a raucous nightclub revelers frolicking in warm flickering candlelight, only to snap back to the same bright light of a new day.
Elegant and playful with a real sense of place and time.
Meaning “Feast”, this bacchanalian parade plays off of hundreds of medieval artistic tropes to poke fun at the modern notion that “now” is the only time that people knew how to have fun. Filled with fast-paced transitions, in-jokes (there’s a recurring segue), and a soundtrack that quite simply rules, I defy you not to enjoy this rich cinematic escape into the images of the past.
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—intense facial expressions and cinematic moments (the cigar burning in the foreground)—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. Goosebumps.
Hemingway would approve of the raw emotion, bold truth, and quintessential brevity.
Yes, this animation is from 2007 (and it looks it), but 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.
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.