The Box

By Dusan Kastelic | Animation
A box is full of miserable creatures -- but one of them doesn't belong there.

In a strange, dark box lives a group of box-headed elderly humanoid creatures with roots instead of legs. Most of these creatures are sunken into a catatonic sleep, unaware of anything outside their hermetic, sealed-off world.

But one of them emerges from the crowd, stunned into consciousness. Young and growing, the creature starts to cause a joyful ruckus, but struggles against the disapproval and rancor of the rest of his box-dwellers. But then the youngster begins to fight back, looking for a way outside the box but coming against its most oppressive forces yet.

Writer/director/animator Dusan Kastelic’s short animation is a surreal yet exuberant allegory about the pleasures and perils of non-conformity, being an individual and pushing through obstacles to a new level of consciousness.

The narrative takes the phrase “outside the box” and spins it into a deeply imaginative, hypnotic narrative that resembles a fairy tale. Not a sanitized children’s version of a fairy tale, however: the film instead resembles the original European fairy stories, which were dark, psychologically complex and disquieting in their emotional violence.

The images are nightmarish, with their evocations of distorted flesh and murky colors. But the expressiveness of the creatures and attention to detail — created in open-source 3-D software Blender — are remarkable from a technical and emotional level, and draw in viewers with a powerful combination of gesture, sound and storytelling.

Despite the claustrophobic world portrayed in the film, there are splashes of zany humor and joy, particularly as the younger creature expresses its unbridled childlike self. The musical score and sound design by Mateja Staric go a long way to create contrast between stultifying conformity and youthful individualism, as well as keeping the narrative at a consistently engaging pace.

Despite its strange appearance, the uninhibited joyousness and high spirits of the newly emergent creature are so much like the energy of children, and viewers cannot help but relate. Yet “The Box” becomes genuinely sad and painful as the youngster is repeatedly brought down and cut down to size, and confronts the mechanisms of the box itself that keep its inhabitants docile and in the dark.

Watching that struggle becomes a powerful metaphor for the oppression and conformity that we all face, whether it’s the box that society puts us inside or the ones we put ourselves in. To watch the creature struggle against a dark, narrow world is hard, and yet, as the creature discovers, as long as you can feel a spark of an essential self, there is always a way towards the light.




You Might Also Like:

Mordechai

By Benjamin Bee | Drama
An ultra-orthodox Jew hasn't seen his identical twin brother in years. But today is the day of their father's funeral.

Retouch

By Kaveh Mazaheri | Drama
Her husband has an accident at home... and she just watches him die.

Stealing Silver ft. Maisie Williams

By Mark Lobatto | Drama
A woman confronts a painful time in her life after discovering the truth about a mysterious old man living across from her.

Joseph’s Reel

By Michael Lavers | Romance
An elderly man, upon dying, is given the opportunity to relive one day of his life.

Cradle

By Devon Manney | Animation
Returning to the U.S. after losing both arms, a veteran battles phantom pains, prosthetics and memories of his pre-war life.

Hold On

By Charlotte Scott-Wilson | Drama
A young cellist develops stage fright after one of her cello strings comes lose during an important performance.

Don’t Be a Hero

By Pete Lee | Drama
A middle-aged woman battles her loneliness and boredom by robbing banks in the guise of a cowboy on her lunch break.

Our Kind of Love

By Elham Ehsas and Azeem Bhati | Romance
An Afghan village girl goes on her first date in London.

Lost and Found

By Andrew Goldsmith and Bradley Slabe | Animation
A clumsy crochet dinosaur must unravel itself to save the love of its life.

Edmund the Magnificent ft. David Bradley & Ian McKellen

By Ben Ockrent | Comedy
A once-legendary farmer takes a chance and invests his life savings in a thoroughbred piglet.

Reception

By Joe Gillette | Romance
Two strangers, trying to avoid the crowd at a wedding reception, end up making an unexpected connection.

Exit Strategy

By Travis Bible | Sci-Fi
A man in a time loop must work with his brother to prevent a catastrophic fire.

Garfield

By Georgi Bank-Davies | Romance
A young woman wakes up in a strange place, with a strange guy. Then, she start to piece together how she got there.

Partners

By Joey Ally | Romance
A couple's love life begins to slump, forcing them to reconsider the relationship and confront how intertwined they've become.

Balance

By Mark Ram | Drama
Two friends climb a mountain, connected by a rope. But when one falls, the other's life hangs in an unstable balance.



Your favorite short films you haven't seen yet.

Inspiring and insightful. Entertaining and enlightening.
That's what you can expect here: no fluff. Just a steady
stream of the best films delivered to your inbox.