Jean-François: The Loneliness of a Championship Swimmer

Jean-François: The Loneliness of a Championship Swimmer

Jean-François is a starkly beautiful and surprisingly moving five-minute animated short film directed by French animators Bruno Mangyoku and Tom Haugomat, which was awarded the Jean Luc Xiberras de la Première Oeuvre Award at Annecy 2010. The film is about a lonely championship swimmer who is trapped by haunting memories of his childhood experiences, and whose stellar present-day athletic achievements only serve to evoke painfully sad memories of childhood failure.

Jean-François: The Loneliness of a Championship Swimmer

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Man’s Best Friend: The Tale of a Sweet Later-Life Crisis

Man’s Best Friend: The Tale of a Sweet Later-Life Crisis

Man’s Best Friend (Le Meilleur ami de l’Homme) is a humorously romantic seven-minute short film by French filmmaker Vincent Mariette, which recently screened at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and the 2011 CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival. Henri is an aging security worker with a bad case of burnout, who is employed as a canine security guard in a suburban train station. The only joy Henri gets out of his job is the companionship of his only friend and partner at work, an aging rottweiller. Unfortunately, Oedipus has turned narcoleptic and has outlived his usefulness as a security dog.

When Henri is ordered by his younger supervisor to get rid of the dog or face immediate dismissal, he is confronted with a very hard choice. Initially, Henri is unable part with his dog and seeks comfort with a visit to Chantal, a bistro waitress in the train station who has had a crush on him for some time. Finally, when pushed to the brink, even the usually docile drone can muster up the courage to stand up to The Man; even a regular Joe must hold his last piece of ground and protect the small space he has made that has allowed him life.

Man’s Best Friend: The Tale of a Sweet Later-Life Crisis

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Target: The Spine-Tingling Story of a Cold-Blooded Hitman

Target: The Spine-Tingling Story of a Cold-Blooded Hitman

Target is a suspenseful new short film by the gifted young French director Kendy Ty, an action-thriller that keeps the viewer sitting on edge, guessing right up until the very end. The film begins with brief flash-forward, flash-back sequences that introduce the situation, then focuses on the gripping fast-paced action in a setting of pure presence. Target tells the spine-tingling story of a cold-blooded hitman who sets out to enforce a contract; however, nothing happens in the way that the killer actually had planned.

Target: The Spine-Tingling Story of a Cold-Blooded Hitman

(Best Viewed in HD Full-Screen Mode)

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The Hand of the Masters: A Steampunk Version of The French Revolution

The Hand of the Masters: A Steampunk Version of The French Revolution

La Main des Maîtres (The Hand of the Masters) is a five-minute animated short film by three students from the French Georges Méliès School: Vivien Chauvet, Adrien Toupet and Clément Delatre.  The film won the 2009 Strasbourg International Film Festival (France) Best Animation Award.  It takes graphic inspiration from early 20th century’s Art Nouveau and Victorian styles, and from those influences, everything went to Steampunk.  The film tells the story of working class people and their struggles during the industrial revolution.  In this Steampunk version of the French Revolution, Chari and Ico, two young members of the working class, try to give meaning to their existences.

The Hand of the Masters: A Steampunk Version of The French Revolution

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Bric à Brac: A Tragicomedy of Two Raggedy Scrap-Iron Automatons

Bric à Brac: A Tragicomedy of Two Raggedy Scrap-Iron Automatons

I’m strong to the finish,
’Cause I eats me spinach,
I’m Popeye the sailor man!

Bric à Brac is an engaging 4-minute animated short film by the French filmmakers Emeline Degand and Maud Bourotte, who are two students at the EESA (now École Georges Méliès).  The cardboard, stop-motion animation tells the bittersweet story of two little robot-like thingees, who are made out of spare parts (as is everything around them).  The rhythms and poppy facial expression changes are awesome, and the two scrap-metal automatons really seem to enjoy experimenting with the musical capabilities of their bodies.  But very sadly, one ends up turning into an ecstatic Whirling Dervish, tragically getting much too carried away!

Bric à Brac: A Tragicomedy of Two Raggedy Scrap-Iron Automatons

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Aurore: One Man’s Sexual Journey Through the Body of Another

Aurore: One Man’s Sexual Journey Through the Body of Another

Aurore is a hauntingly beautiful, surreal 1-1/2 minute black&white short film by the French filmmaker Jean-Julien Pous, which is part of Louis Vuitton’s Journeys Awards.  The films in Louis Vuitton’s series are based upon the theme “What does a journey mean to you?” Aurore tells the story of a man who travels through his senses, and through the other’s body, in a process of self-discovery becomes aware of his own.

Aurore: One Man’s Sexual Journey Through the Body of Another

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A Backbone Tale: The Beauty of Ugliness

A Backbone Tale: The Beauty of Ugliness

Une Histoire Vertebrale (A Backbone Tale) is an award-winning short animated film by Jérémy Clapin, which in the classic comic tradition manages to be sadly touching, romantic and funny.  In our eternal race to find love and happiness, some unfortunate souls start with a handicap, as is the case of the sad little man we join in this film.  A malformation of his backbone forces our hero to walk with his head held low, permanently fixed toward the ground.

How on earth is he supposed to search for happiness, to find his loved one, when all that his eyes can see are his own little feet?  And who’s going love him, someone who looks so sad, terribly lonely, and very different from other people?  The emotional state of this poor little fellow, his loneliness and quest to find another human being like him, reveals a profound analysis of the alienation and frustration of people: man needs to live with other men.

A Backbone Tale: The Beauty of Ugliness

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