Following on from my piece for The Indiependent, short films have become a recent hobby of mine during lockdown. They touch on subjects so taboo, they’re rarely seen in modern day films and especially rare to find within children films and entertainment. In the short space of time they take up in our daily lives, they execute them so well, gently normalising subjects without confusion or overwhelming anyone.
I highly recommend anyone to watch them for enjoyment and to anyone with young children in their families. Disney+ have a large variety of short films so forget scrolling through Netflix, give these hidden gems a chance. To help you get started, here’s a list of my favourites and why I enjoyed them.
Out features Disney and Pixar’s first gay main character and it’s first same-sex kiss. It follows Greg, one half of an interracial couple, with the other half being his boyfriend Manuel. This short film highlights Greg’s struggle to come out to his parents. In classic children’s film style, an element of magic intervenes in the form of a cat and dog. Their magic causes Greg to swap bodies with their pet dog and thus he discovers not to be ashamed of himself and that his parents will love him no matter what and just want him to be happy.
Poignant and powerful in it’s plot, Out highlights the reality of the inner struggle that is faced by members of the LGBTQ+ community. Greg’s journey is one that mirrors many as he finds acceptance and love within himself and his family. The film ends with the magical cat and dog leaving on a rainbow, the international symbol of Pride.
A short tale that follows a young boy and his grandmother as they battle to escape a chasm full of floating objects and debris. This film pulls straight on the heartstrings as at it’s core, is a story of immigration and the heartbreak experienced by families as they are separated. The closing scene see’s the boy breaking down in tears as his grandmother sacrifices her own freedom to ensure he has a better chance at freedom.
The bond of family is the main message of this short film as it highlights the harsh reality of immigration, forcing viewers to confront it and acknowledge it’s existence. It’s slightly longer than other short films but it is highly worth it for the impact it leaves behind.
This Oscar nominated short impacted me so much, it reduced me to tears. A heartfelt tale about the growing unlikely friendship between a feisty stray cat, and an abused pitbull dog. The two animals, both suffering in different ways, begin to bond through play and eventually escape. Kitbull is an animal lovers dream.
Although it is a dark plot, it is lit up by it’s emotion, it’s characterisation and it’s powerful scenes. With themes of isolation, empathy and the vulnerability of animals, it captures our attention and brings us to tears. However, do not be put off, I promise it has a happy ending.
The Old Mill- 1937
The Old Mill has one of my favourite soundtracks that I’ve heard in short films. Upon researching I found out that The Old Mill was a pioneer in Disney film. It was created to test the latest advancements in animation including sound and colour technology. The lessons that were learnt in developing it were incorporated into the earliest Disney films and paved the way for all our favourite Disney classics.
The actual plot follows a community of animals who live together in harmony in an abandoned mill and how they deal with a severe thunder storm that nearly destroys their home. The Old Mill also won the 1937 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.
A wholesome story that see’s a baby sandpiper overcome her fear of water. The little bird soon realises the beauty of the sea and discovers new ways for her family to find food. This film shows the importance of growing up and (excuse the pun), spreading your wings and finding your independence.
Arguably, a coming-of-age film, it was released alongside Finding Dory. Piper was created across a three year period using new cutting edge technology. The production team visited various beaches for inspiration and to ensure the animations of the birds were as realistic as possible. It also won the 2017 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.
Lou is centred around a lost-and-found box in a kindergarten playground and the unseen monster (Lou) that lives amongst the unclaimed toys. When a school bully starts stealing toys from the other kids, Lou subtly intervenes and encourages the bully to change his ways.
Whilst incorporating classic school playground dynamics, Lou is a figure that can guide children into learning the importance of doing the right thing and making new friends along the way. Although this film, has a bittersweet ending, Lou is still a heart-warming story that is perfect for children.