Review: Bench (2020)

PÖFF Shorts
Jury Mention, Children’s Animation Competition

Can a really short short film be reviewed properly? Rich Webber’s Bench certainly deserves it for its humor, emotions and technical and artistic achievements packed in an extremely compact format of just over a minute and a half of its total runtime. For its merits, it achieved the Jury Mention at the Children’s Animation Competition of PÖFF Shorts.

It was described, probably by its author, as a film about sharing, but it actually plays with our expectations in the best way possible. We see a bench in the park and a large and quite abstract blue clay figure occupying it while eating a sandwich. A tiny, thin figurine of the same nuance of colour comes by and the sound design suggests us that it is hungry. Is the “fatso” willing to share his meal?

Bench relies on contrasts. It is not just about big and tiny, fat and skinny, full and hungry, but also about the abstract design of the clay figurines and the concreteness of the bench, the trees and the grass surrounding it. With no dialogue at all, just by the means of stop-motion animation and the sound design, Webber, best known for the directorial work on Shaun the Sheep original series, manages to surprise and shock its audience, both the children and the adults, but also to make them laugh, to warm their hearts and give some food for thought about the human nature.

Runtime: 1’35’’
Country: UK
Language: No dialogue
Directed by: Rich Webber
Written by: Rich Webber
Cinematography by: Sam Morris
Animation by: Darren Thomson, Rich Webber
Sound design by: Mick Percival
Sound by: William Davies
Background design by: Aurélien Predal
Story artist: Andy Janes
Colourist: Jon Biggins
Produced by: Rich Webber