A Guide to Oscars’ Shortlisted Animated Shorts

The 10 shortlisted films in the Oscars Best Animated Short category include four from major U.S. studios (two Pixar, one DreamWorks Animation and one Netflix) and a number of international entries. The category also contains a couple of straightforward commercial shorts designed to amuse and charm, and a few experimental ones that at times border on the surreal. These 10 will be narrowed down to five with the nomination voting from March 5-10. This is the second in TheWrap’s guide to the shortlisted films in all three shorts categories.

After clearing the first round of nominations for the 93rd Academy Awards on 9 February, Hawaiian animated short, Kapaemahu is now gearing up for the bigger face off. Ahead of the next round of voting by the Academy’s animation branch on 15 March, the makers have released the ‘Making Of’ video of Kapaemahu to give a better insight and look into the history of making the film. The video gives an in-depth picture of how tireless research, fascinating cultural history and animated imagination blends into a whole – an animation masterpiece that the film is.


We're one step closer now though, as The Academy has revealed their shortlists for a number of categories. Including (relevant to our interests) that for Best Animated Short. The list has been whittled down from 96 films that qualified this year. It's from these 10 shorts that the nominees will be announced. Kapaemahu, rooted in Pacific Islander and Polynesian mythology, is a US production but a non English-language film. It will hope to add an Oscar nomination to its already impressive list of nominations and festival selections.

The animated short film Kapaemahu has made Oscars history, as the first Hawaiian animated short film to clear the first round of voting and make the official Oscars Shortlist in the 'Animated Short Film' category.

Oscars: Best Animated Shorts Predictions 2021

This year’s shortlist of 10 animated shorts reflects the zeitgeist, the impact of the pandemic on festival exposure, and the ascendance of streaming. Yet they all reflect the turmoil, uncertainty, and need for unity that define the moment. Frontrunners: “If Anything Happens I Love You” - “Kapaemahu” - “Opera” - “Out” - “The Snail and the Whale”

A week ago we anticipated that animated short film, Kapaemahu, could be the first ever Native Hawaiian film to have ever been nominated for the Academy Awards Shortlist. And yesterday, 9 February 2021, history has been made as Kapaemahu has made it through the first round of voting and is now on the official Oscars Shortlist of ten films for the 93rd Oscars Shortlist in the ‘Animated Short Film’ category!!

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced shortlists in nine categories for the 93rd Academy Awards®. Ten films will advance in the Animated Short Film category for the 93rd Academy Awards. Ninety-six films qualified in the category. Members of the Short Films and Feature Animation Branch vote to determine the shortlist and the nominees.

As unlikely as the story’s re-emergence may be, Wong-Kalu’s retelling of it would be captivating even without the backstory. Enlisting award-winning filmmakers Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson to co-direct, and handing animation duties to award-winning director Daniel Sousa (whose 2012 short Feral was nominated for an Oscar), Wong-Kalu clearly put a great deal of thought into how best to tell this mo’olelo. Every detail of Kapaemahu feels well considered, from its glowing orange and brown hues to the narration in Olelo Niihau (“the only continuously spoken form of Hawaiian“) to a 2D art style that balances a contemporary aesthetic with visual cues from traditional Polynesian art. It’s a style that’s respectful of tradition while still feeling very much alive.

Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, a Native Hawaiian educator, cultural leader and community advocate for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, wrote, directed and produced Kapaemahu, an animated short that has won the top prize at three Oscar-qualifying festivals – Spain’s Animayo Festival, Northern Ireland’s Foyle Film Festival, and the Atlanta Film Festival.

This mythic, gorgeously conceived Oscar-longlisted animation -- written and directed by Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson, with director of animation Daniel Sousa -- may be short in format, but its sweep is epic in feel, bringing to life a powerful legend with a compelling authenticity and rich storytelling. Relayed in the language of Olelo Niihau, a rare dialect of Hawaiian spoken before Western contact, the story captures a vein of spiritual wisdom, bringing it back to light and consciousness as an act of love and honor.