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To fill out the program of cartoon shorts, there will be five more runners-up, although we have only seen the Oscar-nominated quintet below. They’re all strong.
The shortest, Richard Williams’s “Prologue”, is the most gruesome, an entirely hand-drawn depiction of primitive combat as witnessed by a young girl who turns into Käthe Kollwitz’s famous self-portrait at the end. Human brutality is more elegantly represented by Chilean Gabriel Osorio, whose beautifully rendered “Bear Story” uses the tale of an escaped circus animal to depict the aftermath of fascism.
Pixar goes wonderfully multicultural in the seven-minute “Sanjay’s Super Team”, which finds a superhero-loving Indo-American boy discovering common ground with his immigrant father when Hindu deities come to colourful life.
The two most fascinating are the longest and literally the most out there. “We Can’t Live Without Cosmos”, from Russia’s Konstantin Bronzit, depicts lifelong best friends trained as cosmonauts. But what happens when only one is chosen for space duty?
Finally, take a double dose of brain juice for “World of Tomorrow”, a 17-minute journey into a dystopian future of stick figures, weeping robots, and “discount time travel”, courtesy of an English-accented clone who travels into the past to deliver memories (and warnings) to a little girl who’s blithely okay with just about everything. This discomfiting mayhem, told in an escalating pile-up of animation styles, is from American Don Hertzfeldt, who has brought his twisted vision to The Simpsons and his own touring program, the Animation Show. Apparently, this future is coming for you whether you like it or not.