Interview with Oscar Nominee: Tal Kantor on His Favorite Shot in "Letter To A Pig"

With awards season in full swing, we asked the producers of the 15 films nominated for this year's Academy Awards in the animated short film category to share their favorite shots from their films and why they are so special. Each film is listed in the order in which the materials were received.

In this edition, we present Tal Kantor's "Letter to a Pig," winner of the Grand Prix for short films at the Anima International Short Film Festival in Brussels, the Grand Prix for narrative short films in Ottawa, the Zlatko Glitch Award in Zagreb, and the Ophir Award for short films, the highest film award in Israel

"Letter to a Pig.

"Letter to a Pig" blends animation techniques with live-action shots to tell a different version of the same story. In this short film, a Holocaust survivor reads to a group of schoolchildren a letter he wrote to a pig that saved his life. The different styles emphasize how fallible human memory is and how abstract the images and imaginings recalled are often.

Here are some of Cantor's favorite scenes from the short and her explanation of their meaning:

This shot in the film was inspired by a striking moment in a dream I had in elementary school. For years I vividly recalled details of that dream, such as the weight and soft touch of the piglet trembling in my hand. This memory made a powerful impression on me, and over the next decade, along with several other memories, eventually turned into a strong desire to make this film.

This shot is an important turning point in the film, as the young heroine, Alma, changes her perspective dramatically. She decides to listen to the dictates of her conscience and do the right thing.

This moment unfolds immediately after Alma witnesses the consequences of her and her classmates' fear and animosity toward the unfortunate pig. She decides to take action and reaches up and gently lowers the pig, freeing it from the threads of cruel hatred.

At this moment, the process of self-reflection and shrinking of great fear begins, and the pig returns to its small, gentle state in Alma's hands. This is the beginning of an inner reconciliation.

After many attempts, the team and I finally succeeded in producing and realizing this complex shot exactly as I had envisioned it.

In this moment, I aimed to portray a pure and authentic connection between Alma's mature hands and her soft pig body, where the boundaries of dream and reality melt into each other.

Therefore, it was important to me (and almost throughout the film) to use footage of real hands, rather than painted hands. This choice was intended to highlight and encourage reflection on the movements and actions we perform with our human hands. This shot captures a moment of connection, of that first touch of compassion and tenderness, and embodies the essence of the entire journey and message of the film.

Read other entries in the series so far: