What an up-and-coming talent is the Californian Don Hertzfeldt. He won the Grand Jury prize at the Sundance Festival 2015 with “World of Tomorrow”, and impressively, it is not the first time. In 2007 he already won the same award with another animated short entitled “Everything Will Be Ok”. This makes the American the first director to win the Grand Jury prize twice. That is especially a huge achievement when you take into account that Sundance does not create separate categories for live action, animation or documentaries, but that all these different genres compete against each other for the top prize. To steal the show with an animated short film is clever to say the least.
Hertzfeldt has a very specific style, in which the characters are usually drawn in an extremely minimalist way (they are not much more than stick figures), which contrasts enormously with the often profound and complex narratives and subjects of the animation films. In contrast to the characters, the backgrounds and settings are also inventively and creatively worked out, with which Hertzfeldt can still show his talent as a draftsman and animator.
For “World of Tomorrow” he has followed much the same way, although this is his first digitally edited film. This science fiction animation film tells the story of toddler Emily, who is visited by an adult clone of herself from the future. In not even 17 minutes, Hertzfeldt manages to explain a very complicated structure in a light and humorous way. The clone shows little Emily the technical progress the world will make and explains how her memories have been passed on to different generations of clones. The film consists exclusively of a dialogue between Emily and her clone while the viewer is taken on a journey from one dazzlingly beautiful, futuristic setting to another.
It is difficult to say exactly what makes this film so special. Everything is simply right: the intelligent narrative, the original design, the ideal dose of humor. Besides the funny absurd gibberish of little Emily, deep quotes like “now is the envy of the dead” are thrown at you, and it feels good too. You can enjoy this film in so many ways that “World of Tomorrow” is above all a trip that you have to experience all by yourself.