SXSW 2023 Presents an Impressive Slate of Animated Shorts

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SXSW 2023 Animated Shorts - But Why Tho

Massive festivals like SXSW 2023 bring out some of the most anticipated titles in film and television, the heavy hitters that set the tone for a year of hype. But let’s not forget the little guy! True to form, SXSW’s spirit of innovation touches every category of its programming and that is especially evident in the SXSW 2023 Animated Shorts Program.

Four unassuming shorts, each bringing wholly unique approaches to the medium and offering a perspective that is refreshing, sophisticated, and exciting to watch. Good things really do come in small packages!

Beyond the Fringe

Beyond the Fringe SXSW 2023 Animated Shorts - But Why Tho

Directed by Han Tang, Costanza Baj, and Giulia Zanette, Beyond the Fringe tells the story of a small paper figure that magically emerges from the pages of a notebook. What begins as an exciting discovery, full of inspiration and curiosity, turns to fear of the unknown as the paper figure realizes how fragile they are in a vast and lonely world. In a moment of radical introspection, the figure gets in touch with who they are—where they came from and what they’re truly made of—to find the courage to leave the safety of the notebook and venture off into a world of potential and possibility.

Beyond the Fringe is delightfully whimsical and utilizes stop-motion animation to an absolutely lovely effect. The premise is simple and the execution elegant in its minimalism, allowing the story to shine with the support of unpretentious and practical visuals. The very definition of doing the most with very little.

Beyond the Fringe enjoyed its World Premiere as part of the SXSW 2023 Animated Shorts Program and the Film & TV Festival.

The Debutante

The Debutante SXSW Animated 2023 Shorts - But Why Tho

In The Debutante, a young socialite escapes the everyday pressures of polite society by visiting her local zoo. During these daily escapes, she befriends a hyena and the two lament their positions in life. The hyena dreams of going to a party and the debutante wishes to be left alone. The two hatch a surprisingly violent plan for the hyena to take the young woman’s place at a party being held in her honor. Directed by Elizabeth Hobbs and based on the short story by Leonora Carrington, The Debutante is a shocking dark-comedy short.

Striking is the word. The Debutante is striking. Sophistication gives way to a kind of abrasiveness as the combination of ink drawings, paint, and collage effects put forth an explosive aesthetic with classical sensibilities. The chaotic art style perfectly matches the surprising horror elements and rough humor of the overall short. A disruptor in every sense of the word.

The Debutante makes her Texas debut in the SXSW 2023 Animated Shorts Program.

Sandwich Cat

Sandwich Cat SXSW Animated 2023 Shorts - But Why Tho

In this quirky animated short by David Fidalgo, a man named David is shocked to discover that his pet and best friend, Sandwich Cat (an adorable kitty wearing a piece of bread), has swapped minds with an alien. The otherworldly visitor informs David that they are here to view the world through Sandwich Cat’s eyes and determine if there is enough goodness in humanity to make it worth saving.

Sandwich Cat is plucky and vibrant, with acid trip animation meeting a sardonic storyline. It’s a frank appraisal of the best and worst of humanity that is decidedly cynical but delivered in a heartfelt package. The playful animation does not attempt to secure the short’s edge, rather it enhances it.

Sandwich Cat will enjoy its international premiere at SXSW 2023 as part of the Animated Shorts Program.


Sprout - But Why Tho

Sprout is the creation of writer and director Zora Kovac. In Sprout, a reclusive scientist lives alone in his large mansion. He fills his days inventing gizmos and gadgets to limit any contact he may have with the outside world. After an accident in his laboratory, the scientist discovers that he is no longer alone—a humanoid sprout has been born and, all at once, the scientist has the connection he has always wanted. As the sprout matures and yearns for the outside world, the scientist must let go of his tight control if he wants to join the sprout on this journey of discovery.

Sprout is a sweet and simple romp. It has a quiet, unassuming pleasantness to it and makes no attempt to be more than what it is. The short is a gentle proverb on what it is to love, to connect, and to be open to possibility, even if we fear getting hurt. Sprout is the feel-good entry within its slate.

The SXSW 2023 Animated Shorts Program screened at the festival on March 11, 2023 with an additional screening to follow on March 15, at 3pm.

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