At next month’s Annecy animation festival, Disney will world premiere three new animated shorts from its newly-announced short film program Short Circuit.

Launched in 2016, the program’s set-up and aims are similar to the Spark Shorts program from Disney’s sister studio, Pixar. The company explains: “[A]nyone at Walt Disney Animation Studios can pitch an idea and potentially be selected to create an original short film with the support of the studio and their fellow artists. The goal of this innovative program is to take risks in both visual style and story, surface new voices at the studio, and experiment with new technical innovation.”

"Just A Thought" directed by Brian Menz.
“Just A Thought” directed by Brian Menz.

Also, like Spark Shorts, Disney is labeling its Short Circuit content as “experimental films,” a branding tactic that is likely to cause more consternation from the animation filmmaking community. If the Spark Shorts to date have been any indication, the idea of “experimental” at a $200-billion corporation is very different from what the rest of the animation world considers experimental.

If any of the Spark shorts were actually programmed in competition at an international animation festival, including Annecy itself, they would fall very much on the conventional end of the spectrum, both in terms of narrative construction and style/technique exploration. That’s not a knock on the films, but experimental? These films ain’t.

"Jing Hua" by Jerry Huynh.
“Jing Hua” by Jerry Huynh.

The three new shorts set to debut at Annecy are Just A Thought directed by Brian Menz, Exchange Student by Natalie Nourigat, and Jing Hua by Jerry Huynh.

Thus far, 20 Disney Animation artists have directed shorts, most of which average two minutes in length.

The shorts will debut in the U.S. on the Disney Plus streaming service in spring 2020.

"Exchange Student" by Natalie Nourigat.
“Exchange Student” by Natalie Nourigat.

Updated June 18, 2019: Added images from the short films.

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