One Small Step (2018)
Directors: Andrew Chesworth, Bobby Pontillas
Screenwriters: Andrew Chesworth, Bobby Pontillas
Taiko Studios’s Oscar nominated animated short film One Small Step, from the minds of Andrew Chesworth and Bobby Pontillas and telling the tale of a Chinese American girl’s pursuit of becoming an astronaut, is some of the richest evidence available that the (almost) silent form of cinema can still be as bone-chillingly heartbreaking and uplifting as any version with sound.
This coming of age drama, which cycles through key stages of development from girlhood to womanhood against the backdrop of achieving the dream of becoming an astronaut, is an affecting piece of cinema that may take a while to truly sink its claws into your skin but once it does it takes you one heck of an emotional ride.
The central most protagonist’s relationship to her father – a cobbler – and their sharing of a fascination with space travel and astrophysics is the crux of this finely tuned film and is the piece’s key source of empathy; the quiet but loving father’s role celebrated for its small contributions (such as fixing the protagonist’s broken shoes) even in the midst of extremely large and more globally important goals and intentions.
The wonderful balancing between the two is what truly elevates One Small Step to a different level, the result being the insinuation that no small deed can be deemed any less important than a large one; that it takes small acts such as putting food on the table and shoes on feet to help to grow, develop and define anyone… even an astronaut.
Vitally, this is played upon within the film’s score, the juxtaposition between moments of happiness and strife within the music escalating every key story beat in the heroine’s journey, offering glimpses of magic that urge investment in every positive development and leave you high and dry to deal with the very worst of what she has to go through in almost total silence. It’s a classic technique used throughout cinema history but one that has been well orchestrated in conjunction with One Small Step’s story to create an atmosphere that is readable and understandable to anybody, and one that builds to a truly satisfying conclusion.
Luna, the appropriately named central most protagonist, is vitally worth rooting for, and the way the Eastern inspired Western animation brings her to life at various stages of her development is truly fascinating, the rendering of even the most momentary of scenes being of the very high standards anyone would set of an Oscar nominated Animated short film.
One Small Step is like the First Man of gentle animated short films, only with more obvious heart-tugging intention; a short film of just under 8 minutes that is worthy of the utmost praise and adoration, a piece of cinema worth telling your friends about.