Oscar Nominee Interview: Director Preito Tender Talks Favorite Shot in "Dog Apartment" (Exclusive Interview)

We invited the makers of the 15 films nominated for this year's Academy Awards for Best Animated Short to share their favorite shots from their films and why. Each film is listed in the order the materials were received. Voting for the nominations will begin today, January 11, and run through January 16.

In this piece, Estonian animator Prit Tender talks about his stop-motion short "Dog Apartment (Koerkorter)," which was entered in a number of international animation festivals, including Annecy, Zagreb, and Stuttgart, and won the Grand Prix at the latter. He talks about the film.

"Dog Apartment" tells the absurd story of Sergei, an aging ballet dancer exiled to a suburban kolkhoz (a Soviet-era collective farming community).

Below, Tender shares his favorite scenes from the short and tells us what they mean:

I was intrigued by the idea of creating a room where something as solid as a floor or wall could expand and contract, something that, in 2D animation, would "crush and stretch." Doing it in stop motion was an experiment with unpredictable results. It took a long time to build up all the elements and test them in action, but when I saw the final result, not only was I fascinated, but the entire team involved in this work. Animation experts seem to suspect some CGI trickery behind this shot, but I assure you it was all pure handiwork.

Some who have seen this scene on the big screen have felt nauseous as solid space suddenly becomes liquid, affecting their sense of gravity. The seemingly mundane living room behaves like a dog, causing us to question our understanding of reality as well. I once showed this scene to a French bulldog and it started barking violently. It is possible that there was an aesthetic problem with the Soviet interior design, but he may have just seen an enemy there, a rival dog.

Designing and creating that shot was an emotional journey. Most of the people involved in this work had personal memories of similar trashy communal apartments. Each miniature model of the Soviet past evoked a personal episode of how oppressive yet absurd that regime was. Bringing all the elements together in one shot was an empowering experience. I feel like a giant, gripping my own childhood. I think that's what makes for a healthy dose of laughter.

Read other entries in the series so far: