There’s no shortage of animation at your local cineplex during the holiday season. Theater-goers can choose between the feature-length adventures of video game characters, socially inept yetis, web-slinging superheroes or Dr. Seuss’ most endearing baddie for their family outing this year.
But for those who want a little more variety in their animated entertainment — 15 short subjects, from across the globe, to be exact — there’s the 20th Annual Animation Show of Shows, opening Friday, Dec. 21, at Speed Cinema.
The showcase has screened all three years since the cinema opened at the Speed Art Museum, and it has become a popular tradition with patrons, said film curator Dean Otto. It’s set for 10 screenings, this weekend and next, and is the only programming at the Speed during late December.
“It’s worked out really well, because at this time, over the holidays, people are looking for films to see, together with the family, and everyone tends to have strong opinions about one film or another,” Otto said.
“But there’s something for everyone in the program we do here.”
This year’s Show of Shows includes three shorts that were nominated for Academy Awards earlier this week. (The Speed also features a showcase of Oscar-worthy animation each spring.)
Otto said the shorts screening this weekend can largely be described as family-friendly and cover a wide range of subject matter, from the darkly comic misadventures of a bird to a celestial love triangle between the sun, moon and Earth.
The shorts range in length from about one minute to 15 minutes and are animated in various media, including CGI and composited artwork created by the short’s director.
Standouts in this year’s Show of Shows include “Weekends,” a hand-drawn story about a young boy who shuffles between time with his divorced parents. Otto described director Trevor Jimenez’s Oscar-nominated short as “absolutely incredible.”
Otto also spotlighted “One Small Step,” another Oscar nominee directed by Andrew Chesworth and Bobby Pontillas that tells the story of a young Chinese-American girl’s perseverance of chasing her dreams of becoming an astronaut. “It’s just so lovely and incredibly moving,” he said.
Other shorts screening at the Speed include:
“Love Me, Fear Me,” a claymation study from German director Veronica Solomon about the shifting identities people assume as they search for acceptance.
“A Table Game,” Argentinian director Nicolás Petelski’s slow burn toward an unexpected conclusion.
“Carlotta’s Face,” a stylized, first-person account of a woman who suffers from prosopagnosia, a rare disorder that causes people to be unable to identify faces, even their own. By French directors Valentin Riedl and Frédéric Schuld.
“Business Meeting,” director Guy Charnaux’s humorous adaptation of a short story of Brazilian writer Rafael Sperling’s musings about everybody’s favorite way to spend an afternoon.
The 20th Annual Animation Show of Shows opens at Speed Cinema on Friday, Dec. 21, and ends its run on Sunday, Dec. 30. Tickets are $9 for the general public.