'Flee', 'Affairs of the Art', 'Bestia' in the Oscar Animation Nominations 2022


It is certainly a triumph for the 'Flee' animation documentary by Jonas Poher Rasmussen in the Oscar animation nominations. The film (production: Final Cut for Real / Sun Creature / Vivement Lundi! / MostFilm / Mer Film) describes  the story of 36-year-old Amin Nawabi), an Afghan academic in Denmark, ready to marry his partner Kasper, who remembers his harsher day. 

The film certainly won the hearts of the Academy members; 'Flee' wa nominated both in the Best Animation Feature, Best Documentary Feature and Best International Feature -not even the 'Waltz with Bashir' animation feature by Ari Folman could actually achieve such a treat.

Which is not to say that 'Flee' is the favorite to win in the Best Animation Feature category, whose winners are almost exclusively dominated by Disney/Pixar, since the introduction of the category in 2001. This year's 'Encanto', 'Luca' and' Raya and the Last Dragon' are here to stay, with a strong outsider in Sony Pictures Animation (and Netflix film) 'The Mitchells vs. the Machines'.

The surprise snub here is 'Belle' by Mamoru Hosoda, a beautifully produced film, but perhaps too 'Beauty and the Beast' post-modern story for the Academy voters. It is also to be expected that more arthouse offerings, like 'Cryptozoo' (Dash Shaw), 'My Sunny Maad' (dir. Michaela Pavlátová) and the Netflix film 'The Summit of the Gods' (dir. Patrick Imbert) were not nominated; still sad, but not an out-of-the-blue act for the family-friendly dominated category.

In the short animation category, the combination of the powerhouse animation duo of Joanna Quinn and Les Mills (coupled with the National Film Board's promotion strategy) gave another Oscar nomination for Joanna Quinn for the exquisite 'Affairs of the Art'. This is the second Academy Award nomination for the UK director, after Famous Fred (1998).

The political symbolism of Hugo Covarrubias and the chilling stop-motion drama of 'Bestia' deserved its place in the animation short film category. The Aardman story 'Robin, Robin' by Mikey Please is another candidate.

The Cannes-premiered “The Windshield Wiper” by Alberto Mielgo and Leo Sanchez is a cafe drama on love. Miego is already a three-time Emmy winner and  Leo Sanchez has worked in different capacities in many US studio projects (The Croods: A New AgeOver the MoonHow to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden WorldTangled). 

The real surprise here is the Russian animation short 'Boxballet' by Anton Dyakov. Coming from Melnitsa Animation Studio (home to Konstantin Bronzit, but a full commercial studio in its own right). The love story between a boxer and a ballerina in 1991 Soviet Union became the fifth nominee for Best Animation Short.

A lot of other festival acclaimed shorts were left out from both the nominations and the previous shortlist (see below). In the absence of trademark US studio animation shorts, the category now seems as open as ever.

The 5 nominees for animation short

Affairs of the Art, dir. Joanna Quinn (UK/Canada)

Fifty-nine-year-old factory worker Beryl is totally obsessed with drawing, and her fixation dominates the entire household. Apart from her husband, Ivor, Beryl's model and muse, the whole family is addicted to something.

Bestia, dir. Hugo Covarrubias (Chile)

Inspired by real events, “Bestia” enters the life of a secret police agent in the military dictatorship in Chile. The relationship with her dog, her body, her fears and frustrations, reveal a macabre fracture in her mind and a country.

Boxballet by Anton Dyakov

One day, a delicate ballerina named Olya meets the rough, surly boxer Evgeny. 

Robin, Robin by Mikey Please

A chirpy young robin is adopted by a family of mice

“The Windshield Wiper” by Alberto Mielgo and Leo Sanchez

The Windshield Wiper is a very personal and particular vision on Love and relationships.

The rest of the animated shorts in the Oscars shortlist

  • Angakusajaujuq: The Shaman’s Apprentice by Zacharias Kunuk
  •  Bad Seeds by Claude Cloutier
  •  Flowing Home by Sandra Desmazières
  • Mum is Pouring Rain, dir. Hugo de Faucompret
  • Navozande, the Musician by Reza Riahi
  • Namoo by Erick Oh
  • Only A Child by Simone Giampaolo
  • Souvenir Souvenir, dir. Bastien Dubois (France)
  • Step Into the River by Weijia Ma
  • Us Again by Jach Parrish

 . The Oscar ceremony is set for March 27 at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland.

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