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“Motorville” by Patrick Jean

America’s toughest social critics aren’t some far-off foreign leaders; they’re French animators. Remember the 2009 Oscar-winning short Logorama and its merciless take on American consumerism? Now it’s Patrick Jean’s turn to needle the United States. Jean’s previous film Pixels, which reduced New York into a batch of pixels, was a big hit both online and off. It won the top prize at Annecy in 2011, and also attracted the attention of Sony Pictures and Adam Sandler who are now trying to develop it into an 8-bit Ghostbusters-style feature.

In his new short Motorville, he delivers a stinging commentary on America’s addiction to other countries’ natural resources and its effect on the rest of the world. The film was originally commissioned by the American broadcaster Showtime Channel, but after Jean submitted the film, Showtime decided not to air it. Some ideas, even animated, are too dangerous for mainstream America.

The key visual element of Motorville is using a map of a major metropolis (in this case, Los Angeles) as metaphor for the human body. Jean generated the maps using open source data from, which lands him firmly in the emerging New Aesthetic camp. While Motorville is hardly the first time that map data has been turned into film art, Jean’s sharp and witty handle on the concept elevates the film into a league of its own.

Directed by Patrick Jean
Produced by Showtime Channel
Sound design: David Kamp
Additional animation: OneMoreProd, Stephen Vuillemin

  • christyk

    great animation. the united states is one of the richest most “advanced” countries in the world but we don’t have any efficient high speed rails or mass public transportation. amtrak is so outdated, ill-efficent and not even affordable and its almost as expensive as flying. it’s shameful.

  • Inkan1969

    Do you know for sure that Showtime turned this short down because it was too “anti American”? The satire doesn’t seem especially controversial or offensive.

    That was a fun short. I’m a big fan of maps. It’s neat that Jean looked at a google map and imagined a cartoon built on it.

  • AmidAmidi

    I don’t know how anyone with a basic understanding of geopolitics could read this film as being about America stealing oil. At no point does the filmmaker even remotely imply that idea.

  • Michel Van

    a little masterpiece in form of story and animation

    just like his early work ‘Pixels’
    i hope Patrick Jean gonna have great career in Animation

  • Nate

    I think they could have done a bit more with it. It didn’t seem like the appropriate time to put the climax and conclusion.