Hang it all, the short film form is supposed to give the little guy a chance to shine. Sure, I may not have the budget for a feature, but then, not having the expectations brought on by a budget gives me room to play. But this year, only the Pixar tentacle of the Disney kraken released something that gave life to a world that needed animation to exist: Alan Barillaro’s Piper, the story of a baby shorebird who learns a better way to hunt by looking outside his own kind. Theodore Ushev’s illustration of Georgi Gospodinov’s folk tale Blind Vaysha is just that: a series of woodcut-style illustrations warning against living in the past — or the future. It should have been a picture book. Robert Valley’s requiem for a friend Pear Cider and Cigarettes was a picture book, and gains nothing from its halfhearted transfer to moving pictures. Patrick Osborne’s Pearl in interested chiefly in your point of view: it was designed for Virtual Reality viewing, wherein the viewer can look around inside the interior of a car as it carries a father and daughter through life. With that functionality removed for traditional screen viewing, it comes off as slight and clunky. Lou Hamou-Lhadj’s tale of a haunted Old West lawman Borrowed Time is Piper’s only real rival, if only for its visuals and mood. But it just as easily could have been live action. (2017) — Matthew Lickona
This movie is not currently in theaters.