This article originally appeared on The Creators Project Mexico.
Move over Dilbert, this film is about to make your existence petty. Handpainted with watercolors, an emotive seven-minute animated short titled El Empleo ("The Employment") bizarrely captures contemporary notions of productivity through the life of one man on his way to work. Directed by Santiago "Bou" Grasso a Santiago, Argentina, film director, the video relies on a simple illustrated aesthetic to weave a complicated story of society and one's role within it.
The story follows an "ordinary" man on his daily routine to work. Yet, there is an unexpected twist that brings a new dimension to the narrative weight and captivates the viewer. A table and chairs are completely made up of humans folded over each other while a street stoplight is made up of two individuals hanging from a post and flashing their red or green tshirts from under their coats. Each scene is mesmerizing and further complicates our ideas of productivity and service. Is it a message about how we use and abuse each other? Or a cautionary tale about how much we rely on technology and how we may be fated to live without it?
El Empleo is a heavy exploration into these ideas and more. Since its debut in 2008, the short film has won prizes worldwide because of its ability to probe the larger societal models we take for granted. Yet the film is eloquent in spinning us on our heads with a simple technique. To make the film more universal and far reaching, the director decided to keep it short and without words but magnifies the plausible future with the characters actions and captivating everyday sounds.
Grasso operates the independent animation house, opusBOU, that makes short films mixing 2D techniques and stop-motion. One of his latest short films, PADRE, talks about the political situation in Argentina in the 80s and has just won the Festival Internazionale di Corti d'Animazione in Italy.