They say school is where kids' love of learning goes to die, a process we begin to watch firsthand in an award-winning 3D-animated short called Alike. Without a speck of dialogue, the Pixar-esque film builds a terrifyingly relatable late capitalist dystopia where order and work ethic literally choke the color and creativity out of its inhabitants. A light piano-based soundtrack by Oscar Araujo punctuates bright chromatic splashes that illustrate how hope can live on in this nightmarish—and all too real—reflection of modern work culture.
Alike is a passion project four years in the making by Madrid-based animators Daniel Martínez Lara and Rafa Cano Méndez, who have a combined 30 years in the industry. In contrast to big budget studios, Alike was animated on the open source operating system Linux and free 3D renderer Blender. Rather than a team of highly-paid professionals, the directors enlisted the help of ex-students from Pepe-School-Land, where Lara teaches. In practice, as well as theme, Alike is a testament to escaping the treadmill of work and escape from work.
The drive to tell this particular story is rooted in the filmmakers' journeys into fatherhood. "Children turn your world upside-down," Lara says in a making-of video. "When you are a father, you often wonder what the best thing is for your children. This short intends to a reflection in that sense."
While Alike is a film many years in the making, it's never been more relevant, as Tinder released a desktop app geared at office workers and students who can't access their phones during the normal work day. In the words of Motherboard's Jordan Pearson, "Tindering at work is amazing news if you enjoy the crushing emotional bleakness of late capitalism."
The film debuted at Mundos Digitales in 2015, and has since picked up 69 awards at festivals all over the world, including 25th Festival de Cine de Madrid, 30th Edmonton International Film Festival, 20th Seoul International Cartoon & Animation Festival, 15th San Diego Film Festival, Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival, Cartoon D´Or Awards 2016, and Siggraph Electronic Theater 2016. Lara and Méndez published the film online in December, so now you can watch the film in its entirety below.