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Humo Humo

We invited the filmmakers behind each of this year’s 15 Oscar-shortlisted animated shorts to share their favorite shot from their film and explain why it’s special to them. The pieces are being published in the order that materials were received. Nomination voting begins tomorrow, January 11.

In this piece, director Rita Basulto discusses her film Humo, the first Mexican animated short to be shortlisted for the Oscars, which screened in competition at Annecy and Raindance and won best animated short award at HollyShorts.

Animated in stop motion, Humo is the first-person account of a small boy living in a Nazi concentration camp. As carefully detailed, gaunt puppets slowly move through the camp, the protagonist describes his life with heartbreaking innocence and naivety.

Below, Basulto shares her favorite scene from the short and tells us its significance:

This scene serves as a powerful visual metaphor within the short film, encapsulating the essence of our protagonist, Daniel. It vividly portrays his enduring innocence and empathy despite the relentless challenges he faces. Crouched in shadowy corners, he seeks solace with his sole companion, a hollow emptiness.

In this poignant moment, as Daniel nears his final moments, his act of generosity toward his mother, sharing the meager sustenance he scavenges, transforms a couple of stale potatoes into a precious treasure—a symbol of love and survival. These potatoes, seemingly insignificant, hold the key to another day of existence in their confined world, embodying the sole lifeline for Daniel and his mother.

Beyond its narrative, this scene also functions as a grim allegory, highlighting the unwavering resilience of these children navigating an unforgiving world. It symbolizes a society plagued by historical amnesia, perpetuating the same mistakes and setbacks.

Today, these children, like Daniel, represent a continuous cycle of tear-streaked faces, hunger, and cold, grappling with an uncertain future. They yearn for a place in a callous world, unable to evade the tragic fate that looms over them.

Read the other entries in the series:


Jamie Lang

Jamie Lang is the Editor-in-Chief of Cartoon Brew.

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