If you look through the history of our Short of Year winners you’ll see a lot of singular works that bend, combine, or completely upend various classifications of genre or form. Innovative storytelling was one of the linchpins of the this site’s founding conception, and it’s enormously rewarding to see that spirit retained nearly 13 years in, as we continue to find the most pleasure in projects that utilize the freedom of short film as a license to be formally daring.
Albatross Soup by Winnie Cheung is practically the epitome of this ethos. Its strange genesis and what it represents as a fusion of storytelling forms and techniques makes it tempting to award it for intellectual reasons alone. The fact that it’s damn enjoyable is only icing on the cake.
In adapting a famous lateral thinking puzzle into a 7min film, Cheung has practically invented a new format (how’s that for established IP?). Furthermore, it borrows liberally from what is currently one of storytelling’s most fertile playgrounds—audio, and the rise of podcasts. Adapting sensibilities and techniques from this emerging medium and from creative documentary alike, Cheung then spins it all into a blender of gloriously trippy animation, while still retaining the structure and drive of a narrative mystery. Throw in a twisted and morbidly funny theme, and the interactive pleasure that comes from its encouragement of attempts to play along with its riddle, and Cheung has created a work that, all by itself, embodies 90% of our editorial preoccupations.
Yet, at the end of the day, Albatross Soup is a film. A piece of entertainment as much as it is a metatextual amalgamation, it needs to deliver on this front as well. To which we contend—is there any short film as purely entertaining this past year? With its delightfully psychedelic aesthetic, it’s eye-candy in every sense of the phrase, a parlor game…on acid. Even when the answer reveals itself and things get very, very dark, you can’t help but have a smile on your face. For being both a subtle and imaginative piece of boundary-crossing craftsmanship and a simple and compelling crowdpleaser, we’re happy to call Albatross Soup “Short of the Year”. – Jason Sondhi of Short of the Week
“Founded in 2007 by Andrew Allen and Jason Sondhi, Short of the Week has become the preeminent voice in online film curation built on scouring the web to discover and promote the new wave of emerging filmmakers creating innovative stories for online audiences.
Short of the Week is proud to have as investors and advisors Oscar-winning manager-producer, Michael Sugar (Spotlight, Anonymous Content, Sugar23), and acclaimed filmmakers Cary Fukunaga (True Detective, Bond 25) and David Gordon Green (Halloween).”
Albatross Soup is a product of an alchemic relationship between Winnie Cheung, Fiona Smyth, Picture Farm Production, Masayoshi Nakamura and Cause + Effect. Previously, it has been included in the Sundance 2019, GLAS Animation 2019, Animation Party Block 2019, Japan Cinefest 2019, Video Consortium 2019, Curta Vila do Conde Int’l Film Festival 2019, NY American Asian International Film Festival 2019, Rincon International Film Festial 2019, Seattle, International Film Festival 2019m, Florida Film Festival 2019, Omaha Film Festival 2019, Fear No Film Festival 2019, Crested Butte Film Festival 2019, and Ladies with Lenses 2019.
It has won awards and accolades as a Vimeo Staff Pick Premiere and then Vimeo Animation of the Year, the Saatchi & Saatchi New Creators Showcase 2019 and Best Animation at the One Screen Short Film Festival 2019.