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Sonder, an emotive CG animated short, will get an Oscar-qualifying run Sept. 7-13 at the Laemmle Monica Film Center, in Santa Monica.
The short follows Finn, a young man who, while struggling to overcome a broken heart, suddenly finds himself lost in a mysterious land.
Writer/director Neth Nom — an alum of companies including Pixar and Google Spotlight Stories — says he wanted to create a story that would be impactful, and when he looked back at “the hardest times I’ve gone through, usually it revolved around relationships” in some way. He added that he wanted to make it “relatable and to dig into depression, which has a stigma that we don’t want to talk about. But I think the more we share about our hardship, it makes us heal a lot easier.”
Throughout the film, the man carries and protects a blue flower, a symbol of the former relationship that he is grieving, which he and his former love planted together. “When we are depressed, we tend to hold on to something — a picture or a piece of clothing. And that holds us back and makes it difficult to take the first step out.” (The blue was selected to match the color of Finn’s former love’s eyes.)
It was a unique production in that, throughout the process, he and producer Sara K. Sampson (also a Pixar alum) worked with as many as 144 artists from nine time zones and from companies including Pixar, Blue Sky Studios, Electronic Arts and Blizzard Entertainment. To create Sonder, each worked from home in their spare time, with meetings conducted remotely via Google Hangouts or Slack.
It was also created using real-time rendering engine Unity — a staple in the gaming industry that is increasingly finding its way into other forms of entertainment production. “It helped us save time and production costs,” Nom said.
Sonder had its premiere at Unite Berlin in June and screened at CG confab Siggraph earlier this month. It has been selected for additional festivals including Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival, San Diego Asian Film Festival, Sioux City International Film Festival, Edinburgh Short Film Festival and San Jose International Short Film Festival. This week, it won best animation at the California Independent Film Festival. The trailer can be viewed below.
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