Whittled down from the weeklong festival that took place in May, the Best of the NW Animation Festival collects 14 animated shorts that either won awards or garnered special mention. I always find at least one great short in a batch like this—and at this level of curation, there aren't any duds.
There's a bittersweet tone to these selections: Children are bullied, friends are lost, and mammoths commit suicide in the snow. One of the best shorts, Bear Story, by Chilean animator Gabriel Osorio, concerns an old bear tinkerer who carries a wind-up clockwork story box that offers an intricate display of a happy bear family—until the papa bear is beaten and abducted by circus men. Somehow this delights all the young bears the tinkerer meets, but it left me pretty concerned about circuses. Those bears lived in an apartment. I live in an apartment! Could that happen to me? Gone are the happy endings cartoons used to promise by virtue of their genre.