From Canvas (2020), dir. Frank E. Abney III (image courtesy Netflix)

Animator Frank E. Abney III keeps busy with personal projects in between working on feature films like Toy Story 4. He was one of the executive producers of Hair Love, which won last year’s Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, and now has directed a short of his own, Canvas, which recently hit Netflix. It features an elderly man who’s lost all his will to make art in the aftermath of his wife’s death. However, with the prodding of his granddaughter, he comes to rediscover his passion.

Like many animated shorts, Canvas is told wordlessly, conveying its setup and plot entirely through environmental details and gestures. For a story all about the intangible, emotion-based power of art, this is especially appropriate. It’s a lovely little film that’s well worth a watch with your family this holiday. It packs a great deal about grief and healing into that runtime, as well as a non-showy but potent lesson in how art can connect different generations.

YouTube video

Available to stream on Netflix.

Dan Schindel is a freelance writer and copy editor living in Brooklyn, and a former associate editor at Hyperallergic. His portfolio and links are here.