Animal Behaviour: Vancouver’s Oscar-Nominated Short Tackles Some Hairy Issues

A new Oscar-nominated animated short film from Vancouver-based filmmakers peel back the layers behind what it means to be human, or um, animal.

February 15, 2019

By Ayesha Habib

At first glance, an animated short film about a group therapy session for animals seems cute, but in the case of the 2019 Oscar-nominated Animal Behaviour, some stark human issues are brought to the table. In the span of 14 chaotic minutes, a leech with separation anxiety, a pig with an eating disorder, an obsessive compulsive cat, a single-mom preying mantis and a guilt-ridden bird are all forced to confront their inner turmoil with their canine psychotherapist.

That is, until an ape with anger-management issues interrupts the meeting with some hefty problems of his own. What enfolds is a humorous yet poignant take on dealing with mental health issues—through the scope of animals. Do we fight against our natural disposition? Or must we give into it?

A group therapy session for animals delves into some pretty human issues.

The film, produced by the National Film Board of Canada, is the third animated short by Vancouver-based David Fine and Alison Snowden, the Oscar-winning husband-and-wife duo best known for Bob and Margaret on Comedy Central, which was only the highest-rated Canadian animated television series of all time. Animal Behaviour marks the fourth Oscar nomination for the couple (they won an Oscar in 1993 for their acclaimed short Bob’s Birthday) and 75th nomination for the NFB—more than any other film organization outside of Hollywood (they’re kind of a big deal).

In preparation for the 91st Academy Awards, Animal Behaviour will be streaming for free until February 24th on NFB.ca. So be sure to catch the short film critics have hailed as “A blend of Monty Python wit, Second City satire and Woody Allen irreverence” before indulging into a night of prestigious award-giving and shameless celebrity-judging.

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