The Tree and the Cat, directed by Yevgeniy Sivokon, 1983.
The first work posted is a masterpiece of Russian animation – it may not be what you expect. Made at the famed Kievnauchfilm, 1983 – a truly great studio which no longer exists. Soviet animation: The Tree and the Cat
The Mantis Parable, directed by Josh Staub, 2006
The Mantis Parable is a story of life in the face of death; control over our own bodies and stories; compassion, dyspathy and redemption; liberation from captivity; and accepting the risks of sacrifice to help another. It illustrates the potential that we all have to empathize with and help one another. The film has gained international acclaim at film festivals worldwide.
Goodbye Mr. Muffin, directed by Bjarne Sandborg. 2007.
Sweet, moving theatrical representation of the best selling children’s book in Sweden by Ulf Nillson, about a family’s relationship with their beloved guinea pig, Mr. Muffin, who is dying. It ends with a simple burial. For ages 4-10. Book by Ulf Nilsson.
Without You, directed by Ryan McCulloch. 1999.
Animated to the song, I get along without you, sung by Carly Simon. Ryan was 14-years old when he created this animation, which was widely seen on HBO and HBO Family in the 1990s.
The Dead, Poem by Billy Collins, animation by Juan Delcan
Billy Collins served two terms as the US Poet Laureate, from 2001-2003, was New York State Poet Laureate from 2004-2006, and is a regular guest on National Public Radio programs. This beloved poem, The Dead, lets us know that we’re never alone. Read more
The Man Who Planted Trees, directed by Frederick Back. 1987.
This short film won the 1987 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film and the Short Film Palme d’Or. Based on a short story by Jean Giono, it beautifully illustrates a man who devotes his life to planting trees. Often regarded as a true story, it is actually a work of fiction. Highly praised, and considered by many to be a charming masterpiece of animation.
Hedgehog in the Fog, directed by Yuriy Norshteyn. 1975.
Life is full of mysteries. When fog surrounds us, surprises – lovely and dangerous – abound. Nature has risks and friendships, in this favorite Russian animation.
Ain’t no Grave, directed by Chris Milk of The Johnny Cash Project. 2010.
With the refrain, “Ain’t no grave can hold my body down,” The Johnny Cash Project cobbles together (in different combinations) images submitted from throughout the world that illustrate an interpretation of Johnny Cash’s music video, adding depth, relevance and resonance to his song. This was Johnny’s last studio recording. Simply stunning. Official website: http://www.thejohnnycashproject.com/#
Scene from The Three Lives of Thomasina, directed by Don Chaffey, 1963.
A little known gem from Disney. The Three Lives of Thomasina is a live-action magical realist film based on Paul Gallico’s 1957 novel, Thomasina: The Cat Who Thought She Was God which addresses themes of life and death, family dynamics, beliefs, hope and trust. After tragedy strikes Mary’s cat, Thomasina, she and her friends prepare to give Thomasina a dignified burial in the glen outside of town, but prematurely – Thomasina has more life to live! In the film’s most famous scene, Thomasina goes to Cat Heaven. In his book The Disney Films, Leonard Maltin calls the film “delicate and charming” and refers to Thomasina’s journey to Cat Heaven as “a wondrous piece of movie magic.”
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updated July 25, 2014