Director: Rosana Sullivan
Screenwriter: Rosana Sullivan
Disney Pixar’s 2020 Oscars Animated Short nominee is Rosana Sullivan’s emotive Kitbull, a film about a cat and a dog who discover one another, overcome boundaries (some obvious and some less obvious) and inevitably become friends, in another of the studio’s terrifically moving short films.
A malnourished kitten living out of a seemingly forgotten box in a San Francisco yard has its world rocked by the arrival of a pitbull. As time passes and the kitten becomes more understanding of the pitbull’s increasingly bad situation, the pair become friends in a voiceless conconction of Pixar magic that combines elements of moving, beautifully constructed score, radiant colourisation and expressive character design to silently tell of the profound good born into all creatures.
In just under 9 minutes, Kitbull encourages us to consider elements of our own lives, from the film’s more obvious message regarding the treatment of animals to its more metaphorically presented message about overcoming boundaries, destroying barriers and coming together as humans; the wall of barbed wire between the kitten and the pitbull, and the differences in the animals overall, coming to represent the horrifying situation and increasingly fragile state of the United States’ border with Mexico.
It perhaps seems obvious to anyone who has ever set eyes upon a Pixar film that metaphors for contemporary events, situations and concerns would be a given, but how naturally the metaphor develops, as well has how profound such a metaphor is able to feel in such a limited amount of time, makes for an outstanding achievement by Sullivan and her team. Cinema is, and always has been, a powerful source for empathy and driving understanding, and Kitbull, in its own way, contributes to that through its studio’s trademarked heartiness and innocent perspective.
Animated to the same awe-inspiringly beautiful level of the rest of Pixar’s short and feature-length work, though this time adopting a hand-drawn style, this deep and moving piece has the animation to go with it, the studio again proving that they are untouchable as regards rendering realistic lighting and weather effects, this film in particular designing character models so inherently innocent and loving that it makes your heart squeel.
Though at times heavy and never absent of moments that will provoke emotional reactions in one way or another, Kitbull is a beautifully mastered piece of short cinema that will surely make your day in a quick 9 minute dose. A beautiful little movie about a beautiful little cat and its slightly bigger, but just as adorable, older friend.