In a Heartbeat: the four-minute short film here to brighten your day. This independent début – which has racked up 23 million views at the time of writing, captures first crushes and adolescent awkwardness as a boy risks being outed by his own heart when it pops out of his chest to chase down the boy of his dreams. Gangling, red-haired Sherwin’s clumsy encounters with cool, quiffed Jonathan are told entirely without dialogue but with an effective soundtrack. The heart, too, is its own character: eager, excitable, easily broken. It makes for a goofy, surprisingly bittersweet short film. Characterised by refined, bubbly visuals and a softened palette, there’s an incredibly loveable feeling to the whole thing – one you sometimes don’t get from the inch-perfect, big-budget features which dominate the genre.
The senior year thesis project of two animation students – Esteban Bravo and Beth David of Ringling School of Art and Design, both now animators with established American studios – the film, and specifically its score, was completed with the aid of a Kickstarter which unexpectedly took off, raising almost five times its initial goal. It’s little wonder, then, that its release has taken the internet by storm. Putting the project’s success down to backers’ desire to see LGBT characters front and centre in animation – after all, the closest animation giant Disney has come to an explicit nod to an LGBT relationship is one moment at Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post (“ooh, and sauna!”) in 2013’s Frozen – the resulting film is remarkably accomplished. These four minutes of animated delight are well worth your time.