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Welcome to a new segment I want to try out called Animation Tidbits. This is a spin-off series of editorials/quick reviews of short pieces of animation. These could be shorts, talking about animated show openings, the occasional TV series, or short films that don’t qualify as “feature length”. I have recently come across a lot of great stuff, but didn’t feel like putting a full-on review about them. What am I going to talk about first? Well, it’s about a very cool non-profit organization I found out about last year. This company is called StoryCorps, and their goal is to record the stories of normal everyday people of different backgrounds. Now, why is this animation-related? This company sounds great, but why am I talking about it personally? It’s because with some of their stories, they will tell them through animation. Seriously, they will get a team to make these wonderful 2D-animated shorts done in a couple of different varieties of art styles. Some of them have this great 2D cartoonish Dexter’s Laboratory and Powerpuff Girls art style.
What kind of stories do they tackle from this organization? Well, there are a lot of different kinds that range from their life on a certain job, stories from the eldest members of the family, losing loved ones during 9-11, to other moments from their lives. What’s really amazing about these is that every story that I have seen is charming, heartfelt, touching, sad, interesting, and hopeful. You can tell that every emotion that is heard through the individuals speaking is raw and real. Since we just came off of one of the worst years in recent human history, and the beginning of this year hasn’t been all that nice either, hearing these stories and the surprising and heartwarming endings to some of them makes me smile. I’ll admit that I even cried during some of the more personal stories. I just adored that they decided to do this, and even if you decide to check out the non-animated stories, you will find a lot of fun and engaging ones. If you do decide to check out the animated stories that they have made, a good place to start is with a 30-minute video called Listening Is an Act of Love. It contains a couple of different stories, and I highly recommend checking that one out first, and making sure to support this great organization.
The only real nitpick I have is that sometimes the art styles look a bit off, and the animation quality is inconsistent. Still, it’s a very minor nitpick, and I’m not going to lose sleep over it. The main focus on these shorts is more on the human spirit and their stories than on the quality of the animation. These are fantastic, and I could listen to them all day.
Here are the videos I would highly recommend checking out! These are my favorite videos from this organization.
Listening Is an Act of Love: This is the video I mentioned above in this article. It’s 30 minutes long, and all the stories are touching and emotionally resonating.
Clean Streets: The story of retired sanitation workers, Angelo Bruno and Eddie Nieves, who worked together 10 years on the same route in Manhattan’s West Village. It’s probably one of the more ‘feel good’ videos, and always puts a smile on my face hearing the two talk about their time as sanitation workers.
Driven: This video focuses on the first Africa- American racer to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Wendell Scott. The video is narrated by his son Frank, as he talks to Wendell’s grandson about his father’s life as a racer.
The Saint of Dry Creek: The story focuses on Patrick Haggerty growing up during the 1950s, and is about his father who knew that Patrick was gay. It’s a shining example of the human spirit during a time when it wasn’t easy, when you weren’t straight.
Facundo the Great: an interesting memory from famed musician Ramon “Chunky” Sanchez, about the time when he was little, and teachers would Americanize the Hispanic children’s’ names. That was, until a new student arrived.
A Good Man: It follows the story of how Bryan Wilmoth reconnected with his younger siblings after being thrown out of the house years ago for being gay. It’s a touching story, and it reminds me of how strong a family bond can be.
To R.P. Salazar, With Love: A love story about how Rachel P. Salazar and Ruben P. Salazar all started with an email being sent. It’s a cute romantic tale that will put you into a good mood if you are feeling down.
The Human Voice: Following oral historian Studs Terkel, it focuses on what Studs thinks is missing from modern day.
Danny & Annie: As for the final recommendation, a story about the 27-year marriage of Danny Perasa and his wife, Annie. The story follows them from their first date, to the sad final days of Danny’s fight with terminal cancer.
Like I said, I love what this company does, and I highly recommend checking them out. Thank you for reading, and I will see you all next time on the next Animation Tidbits.