Short Films, Long Talks English Dept
  Individual Films(in alphabetical order)
A --
E --
I --
M --
Q --
U --
  • This page will include animations which are useful for various conversation and composition activities, as well as other courses such Introduction to Literature and Literary Criticism.

ani-skills.JPG (5051 bytes)


A --

Animando 1987, 12 min 42 sec by Marcos Magalhaes  

A very interesting animation showing an animator trying out different animation skills and then animating himself at the end.(images  [1987], National Film Board of Canada NFB)
* I love watching this animation to become more aware of the different production techniques of animation. 

Teaching Methods:

  • Literary/Film Criticism: 
    • beginner:  Students tend to pay attention to theme more than form or other technical aspects. With the same movement (walking) drawn or rendered through different techniques, this animation is great to sharpen students' awareness of 1). the importance of techniques, and 2). how animation is made frame by frame.   
    • A list of the animation skills
    • advanced: discussion of artistic self-consciousness 

    • --  How does the film show the interaction between the author and his work?    (The ending of the film shows the animator walks in the same way of his creature and then animated.) 
      -- The other metafictional animations: Mindscape; The Box

Another Great Day! Jo onney/Ruth Peyser 6.5 mins
(from the collection Nice Girls ... Films by and about Women)
A housewife's TV, radio, and sexual fantasies clash with her surroundings, creating a world of distorted values.

Teaching Methods:

Begone Dull Care
1949, 7 min 48 sec by Norman McLaren

A lively interpretation, in fluid lines and color, of jazz music played by the Oscar Peterson Trio. Painting directly on film, two National Film Board artists, Evelyn Lambart and Norman McLaren, have created a gay visual expression of the music. Film without words. (Seven awards, including Venice; Berlin.) (information & images:  [1949], National Film Board of Canada  NFB)

The Big Snit
1985, 9 min 49 secby Richard Condie

This wonderfully wacky animation film is a look at two simultaneous conflicts, the macrocosm of global nuclear war and the microcosm of a domestic quarrel, and how each conflict is resolved. Presented with warmth and unexpectedly off-the-wall humor, the film is open to a multitude of interpretations. (Seventeen awards, including Treviso; Odense; Genie, Toronto; Oscar nomination, Hollywood.) (information & images:  [1985], National Film Board of Canada NFB)
Teaching Methods:

The Box  Co Hoedeman 1989, 10 min 27 sec
(images on NFB's page)

A different version of the Pygmalion story: the puppet comes alive (animated) after it is made.   Instead of love or possessiveness, there is warm interaction between the artist and the puppet, which ends with the former's letting the latter free and independent.


Charles and Francois
1988, 15 min 24 sec by Co Hoedeman

A touching story of the friendship between a grandfather and his grandson, this is a film about aging and death.  Award-winning animator Co Hoedeman combines 3-D and cut-out animation techniques to create a very dramatic and moving film. The story follows Charles and Francois through the different stages of their lives. With time, they become closer, common experiences having diminished the difference in age. By the end of the film, time appears to stand still; both are over one hundred years old and they are almost indistinguishable. (Awards: Montreal; Espinho; Varna; Quebec.)(information & images  [1988], National Film Board of Canada. )

Teaching Methods:

I. Conversation:
This animation is relatively difficult; it needs to be viewed at least twice.  Since the animation itself takes a lot of time to watch, it should be used not as a conversation starter, but as a text to be analyzed.
Text Analysis:
I. After the First Viewing: ask the students what the animation is about;
  • to comment on the relationship between Charles (the grandfather) and Francois (the grandson), how it is changed at different stages of their life;
  • to give the impressive parts about the techniques and the puzzling parts;
  • and, finally, to talk about the possible meanings of the text.
II. Introduction to the Techniques:In The Art of the Animators, Hoedeman introduces his ways of shifting scenes (by not changing the setting but moving the props in front of the camera) and showing movement (moving the rolling background but not the car before it).  After showing students this clip, ask them to list and talk about the techniques of
  • Using two-dimensional paper cut-out figures in a three-dimensional setting;
  • Shifting background
  • the Use of the Mask;
Also, students should try to figure out the meaning of the central lines spoken by the wives of Charles and Francois: how one talks about the pain of the other's coldness and the other give a philosophical view of life: "When love is made, we call it life; When love is unmade, we call it death; When death remade, we call it life."

III.  After the Second Viewing:

Ask students to work out the central meaning of the text.  Then they can follow this central idea and relate the techniques to the content, the meanings of the details to the whole of the text.

A Student Paper

Teaching Methods (II):

Cosmic Zoom
1968, 8 min 00 sec by Eva Szasz

This film probes the infinite magnitude of space, and its reverse, the ultimate minuteness of matter. Animation art and animation camera achieve this journey to the farthest conceivable point of the universe and then into the tiniest particle of existence--an atom of a living human cell--with a freshness and clarity that would seem impossible with other means of exposition. Film without words. (Awards: Bilbao; Buenos Aires; Philadelphia; Berlin.)(information & images [1968], National Film Board of Canada  NFB)

Teaching Methods:

From The Teacher's Guide of Discuss It!


As the video is being played, students can check off words in their personal collection which they could use to describe some of the scenes in the film (e.g. planets, galaxy, river, lake, ocean, blood, cells . . .).  Each one could contribute one word to a blackboard list when the filim is over.  These words could then be number in order of their "appearance" in the film images and students asked toform adescriptive sentence for each one as related to Cosmic Zoom.  The "story" could be built up on the blackboard collectively, and organized into paragraphs.

Additional Activity:

Time for imagination!  Working in pairs, students pick up an object  the film, identify it, and give it human characteristics. The boy in the boat, the mosquito, the dog, a blood cell, a spacecraft, a satellite, an airplane, are all possibilities.  The pairs are given several minutes to prepare descriptions of what they would see and hear from their chosen perspective.

The pair might then create a short monologue to share with classmates.  For the boy in the boat it might go something like this: "I am tired.  It is hard work rowing this boat.  The water is deep.  I see a fish swimming.  When will I reach short?"

More advanced students could write and read their own descriptive paragraphs to the class.

1988, 7 min 47 s

Teaching Methods:
1. Conversation:
Vocabulary: Asking the students to take down the words they find impressive or what they don't know.  For instance, in class, we talked about "cordial" as a kind of medical drink or liqueur, catmint, pitty-pattered, Siamese, fillings. all-around good guy,  bouncing, bopping, hand-springing, poodle, patio, garden hoses, rubble pile, etc.
  • Topics to discuss:
    1. Doris' relationship with the three cats, and our own views of pets.
    2. The animator's humorous presentation of the storm, and our own experience (of typhoon).
    2. Narrative Writing:
    I find this animation useful to stimulate students' imagination and sense of humor in writing their narratives.
    The three cats,  Dayoh, Donna, and DeeDee, are given distinct personalities.   The description of the storm, too, is vivid and humorous.

    Suggested Methods From The Teacher's Guide of Discuss It!


    E -- Getting Started 1979, 12 min 22 sec Richard Condie

    In this animated film the hero attempts to practise a piece of music on the piano. A series of distractions delays him and when he finally sits down to play, pandemonium breaks loose. A short film that will appeal to those of us who tend to procrastinate. Film without words. (Awards: Zagreb; Espinho; Tampare; Toronto; Cracow.)  (information & images  [1979], National Film Board of Canada  NFB)

    Teaching Methods:
    I. Conversation:  A good film to start students to talk about prcrastination and fantasies.

    George and Rosemary David Fine, Alison Snowden1987, 8 min 48 sec
    (images on NFB's page)

    An interesting story about the elderly and fantasies.  Students love the funny personalities of George and Rosemary, as well as George's wild fantasies.  Interestingly, it turns out that George is not the only one to fantasize.

    Teaching Methods:

    Suggested Methods From The Teacher's Guide of Discuss It!


    I -- "Jonas and Lisa"
    1995, 9 min 11 sec from Rights from the Heart (II)

    A woman does laundry to support her husband and three children. The children are obliged to work at a very young age and are terrorized and robbed by their stepfather. Unable to take it any more, the little boy runs away from home.  A film without words. (Award: Chicago.)(information  [1995], National Film Board of Canada  NFB)

    Teaching Methods:

    M --

    Mindscape Jacques Drouin 1976, 7 min 31 sec

    [1976], National Film Board of Canada

    Abstract: A particularly creative example of the pinscreen animation technique, this film is about an
                  artist who steps inside his painting and wanders about in a landscape peopled with
                  symbols that trigger unexpected associations. Film without words. (Eighteen awards,
                  including Ottawa; Yorkton; Columbus; New York; Los Angeles.)
    Teaching Methods:


     "Neighbours" 1952, 8 min 10 sec by Norman McLaren

    Norman McLaren here employs the principles normally used to put drawings or puppets into motion to animate live actors. The story is a parable about two people who come to blows over the possession of a flower. (Presented with discussion in Window on Canada No. 78: Award Winners, title code: 106B 0156 140.) (Nine awards, including Oscar, Hollywood; Rome; Salerno.)(information and image:  [1952], National Film Board of Canada  NFB)

    Teaching Methods:

  • Conversation: The animation is seemingly comic to start with (just see how they fight for a little flower!) but quite disturbingly cruel at the end.  Have students discuss how this animation reflects on international relationships and interpersonal ones.

  • Literary/Film Criticism:
  • For beginners: To stimulate more discussion on boundaries between nations and humans, I like to put together for discussion and cross-reference Robert Frost's Mending Walls, Pink Floyd's The Wall and this animation (see "Mending Wall" page).

  • Overdose
    1994, 5 min 25 sec
    from Rights from the Heart (II)
    A story that a lot of Taiwanese kids are experiencing now!  School, tennis lessons, swimming lessons, art classes, homework, piano practice... a boy's parents have organized his life to such an extent that he has no time for himself.  A film without words. (Award: Moncton.)(information from NFB)

    Teaching Methods:

    Paradise  Ishu Patel 1984, 15 min 20 sec
    An fable of a blackbird's inability to accept himself as he is.

    Teaching Methods:

    Q -
    The Sand Castle
    1977, 13 min 12 sec
    by Co Hoedeman
    A fable of great humor and appeal, The Sand Castle is the story of the Sandman and the creatures he sculpts out of sand. Under his direction, they build a castle and celebrate the completion of their new home, only to be interrupted by an uninvited guest. The wind blows, and the castle crumbles. The filmmaker leaves the door open to various interpretations. Sound film without words. (Twenty-three awards, including Oscar, Hollywood; Melbourne; Columbus.)1977, 13 min 12 sec.(information & images:  [1977], National Film Board of Canada NFB)
    Teaching Methods: Suggested Methods From The Teacher's Guide of Discuss It!

    Special Delivery  John Weldon, Eunice Macaulay 1978, 7 min 07 sec

    Suggested Methods From The Teacher's Guide of Discuss It!

    The Street  Caroline Leaf     1976, 10 min 12 sec
    images on NFB page
    Teaching Methods:

    The Sound Collector
    1982, 11 min 55 sec
    by Lynn Smith

    The Sound Collector, an animation film that uses a combination of collage, paper cut-outs and colored inks on glass, features Leonard, a six-year-old with an unusual hobby. He collects sounds. Transforming household noises around him into exciting fantasies, he creates an adventure story for his scornful older brother in which knights in armor chase away monsters and perform other daring deeds. This film that will entertain young and old alike lends itself to a variety of classroom uses, to encourage creativity in children, and to stimulate discussion on topics such as individuality, family relationships, and imagination. (Awards: Espinho; Chicago.).(information & images:  [1982], National Film Board of Canada  NFB)
    Teaching Methods:

    Urban Steal  Caroline Blair 9 mins
    (from the collection Nice Girls ... Films by and about Women)

    Not an animation, but I find it very useful for literary criticism class.  This film shows an interesting encounter between a feminist film-maker and a female abstract artist (urban waste artist), which ends with the latter suing the former.

    Teaching Methods:Literary/Film Criticism:

    When the Day Breaks 

    U --Zea
    1981, 5 min 17 sec
    by Andre Leduc, Jean-Jacques Leduc

    Suggested Methods From The Teacher's Guide of Discuss It!

    Special thanks to the National Film Board of Canada for providing the images on this page.