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From World of Tomorrow Episode Three: The Absent Destinations of David Prime (2020), dir. Don Hertzfeldt (image courtesy Bitter Films)

In 2015, cult darling indie animator Don Hertzfeldt released World of Tomorrow, a very funny and sad sci-fi short. Since then, he’s turned it into a series, releasing one sequel in 2017 and now another: World of Tomorrow Episode Three: The Absent Destinations of David Prime. In it, a woman sends a message back in time to the man who will one day have a clone whom she will fall in love with (you have to pay attention or it’ll get confusing very quickly).

The World of Tomorrow episodes cram more imagination and ideas into each installment than most feature-length films, building a bleakly humorous vision of a future in which runaway technology has made human connection stranger than ever. Hertzfeldt can wring an astonishing amount of empathy out of characters who are basically stick figures. Despite its simplicity, this is a consistently dazzling, even epic film.

World of Tomorrow Episode Three: The Absent Destinations of David Prime is available on Vimeo.

Dan Schindel

Dan Schindel is Associate Editor for Documentary at Hyperallergic. He lives and works in New York.