What They Say:
One day, a delicate ballerina named Olya meets the rough, surly boxer Evgeny. The contrast between their worlds and their philosophies is so sharp that even the possibility of these two characters crossing paths seems incredible.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Before we begin this review, I must point out that I’m saddened by the timing of this short and its nomination for the Academy Award of Best Animated Short Film. As you read this you are no doubt aware that Russia has invaded Ukraine with intentions experts are not entirely sure about, but which never-the-less are causing needless bloodshed. Many businesses are pulling out of Russia and the country is even being expelled from movie competitions as well as the famous Eurovision contest (of which they are always very proud to be a part of).
That “BoxBallet” was made by Russia means that it almost certainly will not win the award (and I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Scientists disqualifies it in solidarity with the Ukrainian people). Such unpleasant topics shouldn’t have to come up in reviews such as this, but I wanted to make a note of it because at my screening of the animated shorts there was an audible groan from many within the audience of the theater. A few people even stormed out. All for a short that is simply a love story between a boxer and a ballerina falling in love. They are from two different worlds.
He is rough around the edges and his battle scars from fighting are noticeable. She is an angel whose elegance is that of a porcelain doll. They don’t have much in common, yet sparks fly, and they find they complement each other very well. It’s the kind of story that people all over the world tell over and over again, and while I would stop short of calling the short brilliant I would say – given the animosity towards the country that made it at the moment – it IS a reminder that while we have many cultural differences, in some very basic (human) ways we are all the same.
In this case, “BoxBallet” actually has perfect timing: It comes along to remind us that the Russian people are very much like you and me, and they themselves are worthy of liking (even if their madman dictator they have for a president rightfully deserves to be shunned)! The creators of this short could not have predicted that their country would soon be seen as a social pariah when they were making it, and their well-deserved nomination may almost be considered a bittersweet victory. In all likelihood, the nomination will be rescinded. Even though the makers didn’t go to war, I don’t think anyone is in the mood to give accolades to Russia anytime this decade. Should the nomination stay it likely won’t win for those same reasons.
On the chance “BoxBallet” does win the Oscar it will be interesting to see if the filmmakers protest the war that was started from their own country, or just their family for a moment that should have been theirs from the start. Again, the timing for this could not have been worse. Yet there is also some irony that out of all the nominated shorts this year, “BoxBallet” is the one that comes to us with a good message and a message that we can find a lot to love about one other despite our differences. From the country dropping bombs on innocent people…how very unfortunate indeed.
Streamed By: Shorts.tv
This film has been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.