Disney-Pixar today announced the launch of Sparkshorts, a new short film program which it describes as “an experimental storytelling initiative that welcomes new creative voices at Pixar Animation Studios to share their stories.”

The program has been running since at least 2017, when we first wrote about the initative, but it was not formally announced until today.

The first three shorts in the program — Brian Larsen’s Smash and Grab, Kristen Lester’s Purl, and Rosana Sullivan’s Kitbull — will have an exclusive one-week run at Hollywood’s El Capitan Theatre starting January 18. Following that they will be launched on Youtube in February, marking the first-time the studio has launched content exclusively on that platform.

“The Sparkshorts program is designed to discover new storytellers, explore new storytelling techniques, and experiment with new production workflows,” said Jim Morris, president of Pixar Animation Studios. “These films are unlike anything we’ve ever done at Pixar, providing an opportunity to unlock the potential of individual artists and their inventive filmmaking approaches on a smaller scale than our normal fare.”

Added Lindsey Collins, vice president of development for Pixar, “We want to nurture our future storytellers and encourage them to share their stories with the world. Who are the future directors and producers and what crazy new ideas do they have brewing? What is the next big breakthrough in our industry? Diversity and inclusion are at the heart of Sparkshorts. The program was created to provide opportunities to a wide array of artists—each with something unique to say.”

Below are descriptions of the first three shorts along with Youtube launch dates:

  • February 4: Purl directed by Kristen Lester and produced by Gillian Libbert-Duncan, features an earnest ball of yarn named Purl who gets a job at a fast-paced, high energy, male centric start-up. Things start to unravel as she tries to fit in with this close knit group. Purl must ask herself how far is she willing to go to get the acceptance she yearns for and in the end is it worth it?
  • February 11: Smash and Grab, directed by Brian Larsen and produced by David Lally, is about two antiquated robots who risk everything for freedom and for each other after years of toiling away inside the engine room of a towering locomotive.
  • February 18: Kitbull, directed by Rosana Sullivan and produced by Kathryn Hendrickson, reveals an unlikely connection that sparks between two creatures: a fiercely independent stray kitten and a pit bull. Together, they experience friendship for the first time.

Other artists who have directed films for the Sparkshorts program include Erica Milsom (Loop), Edwin Chang (Wind), and Bobby Rubio (Float).

All of the shorts will be available on Disney+, the upcoming streaming service that Disney will launch in late 2019.

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