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As awards season hits its stride, we asked 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.

In this piece, we’re looking at 27 from filmmaker Flóra Anna Buda. The film had an incredible 2023, winning both the short film Palme d’Or at Cannes and the Cristal for a short film at Annecy, and also earning a nomination at the European Film Awards nomination for European short.

27 is the story of Alice’s 27th birthday celebration. An adult by almost any measure, she is suffocating a bit as she still lives with her parents and nosey younger brother. Feeling stuck, she regularly disappears into her dreams to escape dreary everyday life. After a psychedelic party on a factory roof, she is involved in a serious drunken bike accident. But will a brush with death be enough for her to take control of her life?

Here is Buda’s favorite scene from the short and her explanation of its significance:

In this shot, Alice appears to be this tiny human being, alone, surrounded by the mess of the city full of opportunities that she can’t really take advantage of because of her financial difficulties. To me, it visualizes that state of mind where you experience a sort of minority complex, and you’d rather isolate yourself with your struggles because you feel too ashamed and discouraged to communicate them. There are not enough people in the position to speak up about their financial difficulties, mental struggles, or true desires without being judged, considered victims, feeling belittled, or pitied. It’s meant to symbolize a rather dramatic state of mind where you don’t feel like you belong to society, not in your friend circle, family, or even your own country or cultural background. In general, it is supposed to visualize this mentally detached state of mind as a form of escapism when you can only stare into nothing and leave your body for a moment.

I wanted to show the city as a very active character in this dynamic, and it’s supposed to appear as part of the trip, playing the role of this exciting, inviting, but also mirage-like entity. It is unavailable to Alice, and Alice feels like a tiny stink bug compared to the power of all this vibrating liveliness around her.

In terms of composition, I wanted the viewer to feel vertigo, experience the gigantic empty space surrounding the character, and feel the entire city below. In the first draft of the script, at this point, a security guard would have come and kicked Alice out of the club – which actually happened in reality – but with my editor Albane du Plessix and producer Emmanuel-Alain Raynal, we concluded that it would disturb the flow of the storytelling and the rhythm of the film, so I decided to keep it as a memory.

The music and sound design also play an important role in this scene. I chose the track “Possible,” composed by the fantastic musical duo Committee. The track has quite an industrial ambiance, yet the rhythm adds a nervous heartbeat-like tempo, and there is a layer of pathos that really supports the dramatic attitude of Alice but also reflects well to the vibrating city lights, which are also emphasized in the sound design thanks to the amazing work of Péter Benjàmin Lukàcs. He uses these electronic glass-like sound effects, which make me feel like the city is alive and like a cute, moving parasite-like fluorescent nervous system.

It is my favorite shot because it was the most challenging to design and to draw such a detailed composition with so many colors, I felt growth during the process. Besides that, it is an important moment in the narrative that sums up the whole drama of being 27. I remember the satisfaction I felt when I first saw this shot finished during the sound mixing and heard and saw the whole team’s hard work. In this shot, I wanted to portray a very average young adult who could just as much die like a rockstar at 27 with one wrong, slippery move. I feel very grateful to have the chance to create this shot because it helps to slowly direct the spotlight on this vulnerable future generation – that we all once were – at least for a brief moment.

Read the other entries in the series:

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