The apocalypse is a tempting liberator in writer/director Niki Lindroth von Bahr's extraordinary 15-minute animated short film The Burden (Min börda), screening as one of the finalists at Indianapolis's inaugural Indy Shorts Film Festival this coming weekend at Newfields. The film is, quite simply, one of the year's very best animated shorts and absolutely has to be considered a favorite to snag an Academy Award nomination.
As a film critic who reviews both indies and shorts throughout the year, I'm often hard-pressed to call a film a truly unique experience. The Burden is a truly unique and magnificent experience. The film is a dark musical enacted in a modern marketplace that sits next to a large freeway. The employees in the various commercial venues deal with boredom, and their own existential anxieties, by performing cheerful musical tunes.
Truly folks, you've got to see it to believe it.
Not surprisingly, The Burden has picked up a slew of awards along its festival journey including the Short Cuts Award for Best International Short Film at TIFF, the Cristal for Best Short Film at Annecy, Best of Fest at London International Animation Festival, Grand Jury Award for Animated Short at AFI Fest, Audience Favorite at Chicago International Film Festival and the list just kind of goes on and on.
Seriously, folks. The Burden is that good.
The Burden is the kind of animated short that's really not for kids, though the film's dancing rats, singing fish (with bad skin!), and exasperated orangutans should hold their interest well enough while you, I'm looking at you mom and dad, understand the film's sense of isolation and suburban sprawl that is beautifully constructed amidst stop-motion that is simply sublime. From a gigantic supermarket to a call center and an extended stay hotel to a cafeteria, The Burden's creatures sing Swedish songs that you'll understand even if you don't understand.
As an added bonus, it must be mentioned that the attention to detail in The Burden is exceptional with even the film's subtitles being illustrated impeccably.
The closest comparison I can possibly think of for The Burden would be a Swedish Wes Anderson film, though perhaps that comparison is unfair to both Anderson and the cast and crew behind this exceptional film who've managed to make one of the year's truly unique films and one that remains vividly in my memory long after having seen it.
The Burden is screening twice at Indy Shorts as part of the Finalist Shorts 1 Collection:
- Friday, July 27th @ 7pm inside DeBoest Lecture Hall at Newfields
- Saturday, July 28th @ 12:45pm inside The Toby at Newfields
Seriously. Do yourself a favor and check out this incredible collection of short films. It's one of the strongest shorts collections I've had the privilege of seeing and it wouldn't be surprising to see one, if not two, of these shorts mentioned come awards season. For more information on Indy Shorts, visit the Indy Shorts website.
Critic's Note: The Burden picked up the prize for Best Animated Short at Indy Shorts.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic