Bettina Barillas October 25 2018

Simple lines, complex tales: the power of animation 


There is a certain raw power in storytelling through animation. Flat images speak to us in a way that often reaches those corners of our hearts that the real world often has difficulty exploring and speaking to our sense of neglected childlike wonder. It opens us up to new worlds, physical and emotional. It’s universal. And because of that, makes for a compelling and magical medium for exploring and sharing the biggest of stories—especially those in the Labocine orbit. Over the years at Labocine, we have hosted a number of beautiful animated films. Here are some of our favorites:


An unconscious boxer living in a video game dreams in interesting parallels to our world. Coming straight from Sundance, this animation by 23 year old American filmmaker Jeron Braxton won this year’s Short Film Jury Award for Animation. Drawing heavily on internet and pop culture, the trippy and, at times, disorienting film is a fun dose of color and meaning for our modern times. 


Another winner from Sundance, Yearbook follows the boring, daily life of a man who has been hired to compile a history of the human race before the upcoming Armageddon. 


Using a combination of live image and animation, BREU takes the user on a visual exploration of fear in its many forms. The film is an unsettling one for the viewer as the fear experienced by the main character is raw and intense. But perhaps making the film even more unsettling is the scientific explanations of how fears develop on a psychological level. For the character, it is of little solace as he walks through his personal hell. 


A young woman confronts the wounds of her past self through the help of psychotherapy. 

All people carry their past. In the case of Anais, her childhood traumas come to life when she looks into a mirror. Her present-day self has little patience for her past self and its deep wounds and cries of loneliness. She fights her past to avoid hearing the voices of her former self crying for help. Through the support of a therapist, she engages her past self and finds healing.

An uplifting short animation about the strength it takes to confront pain in one’s past life, the main character lives both in her past and present. She is the two people she sees in the reflection, but it’s only though intentional introspection that she can resolve the unsolved business of her past and merge her identities into a more whole person.

The Path Without End

A creation story of the Anishianaabe tribes gets a steampunk makeover in this modern reinterpretation of the tales of the Moon People. The film takes an innovative approach, using her love of beadwork to craft her characters and their surroundings. In an introduction to the film during its original release, the filmmaker also revealed that the film’s imagery had appeared to her in fractured dreams over the years before she created this piece. The narratives of her childhood, passed down by the elders for generations, clearly shaped her own visual narratives as she continues the great tradition of storytelling of her people. 

About the author

Bettina is a communications consultant, whose work supports social change initiatives in health and clean energy in southern Africa and Latin America. Her work has seen her teaching photography courses to youth in villages across Botswana, writing content for high ranking officials working in HIV/AIDS programming, and building business case studies for clean energy investments across southern Africa. She is currently based in Johannesburg, South Africa.