An exaggeration, I admit. There’s little thrill in writing mysteries if I can’t use some hyperbole now and then, let alone fool my readers.
So here’s my SMALL idea. It was prompted by going to see the Animated Shorts nominated for an Academy Award this year. My film-buff friend and Oscar Night Party co-host had to strong-arm me into going to a local theatre to see them. I guess it was too many animated Disney films when my kids were little. Sure they were good, but one of the joys of getting older is that I don’t have to worry about traumatizing young minds with a glimpse of what life might have in store for them. In other words I can enjoy a steady diet of adult films like Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Youth (not nominated for anything big, such a shame), and The Hateful Eight.
I watched the first short nominee–all of 7 minutes–and held my breath. If the rest were this good, I was going to be thrilled to have bought the ticket. By the time the last one ended, I felt as jazzed as if I’d just heard Adele introduce a song in her cockney accent and then belt it out in a way that transports me into another world called VOICE, which has nothing to do with the way Adele looks or speaks or where she came from. It just exists as a force of nature.
Talk about diversity of thought. (An issue discussed so eloquently by the actor Idris Elba addressing the British Parliament, mentioned in an earlier blog.) In Sanjay’s Super Team, a Pixar artist uses his own experience to tell the story of a young Indian-American boy whose love for Super Heroes clashes with his father’s Hindu traditions. . .until the boy embarks on a dazzling adventure, returning with a new perspective they can both embrace. In Bear Story (Chile), a sad old bear builds a mechanical diorama that he shows for a coin on street corners. It’s a way for him to remember the life he had with his wife and son before the child was ripped from his home and sent to a circus. We Can’t Live Without Cosmos (Russia) shows two best friends sacrificing much to realize their dream to become cosmonauts. World of Tomorrow (the longest at 17 minutes) is a sci-fi cautionary look at the future, as well as a profound statement about what’s important now. Only one of the films, Prologue, was basically R-rated and not suitable for children.
These are all beautiful films and so few people in the world will see them. As I learned a few months ago, shorts are labors of love and/or a way for aspiring filmmakers to get noticed by studios. Lots of time, effort and money expended: why let them languish on the shelf? So, who’s the perfect audience? How about people with short attention spans. KIDS. Kids in elementary and middle schools. These animated shorts tell important stories, or they look at some difficult subjects in a gentler way than an adult film would.
What if kids watched them at their schools and then discussed them with their teachers and classmates? What if they discussed them with their parents and siblings and relatives? What if they were continuously exposed to this diversity of thought through short animated films from around the world? What if they grew up to . . .?
Like I said, it’s a SMALL idea. Baby steps. And yet, what a wonderful world this could be.