I arrived late in chilling weather at Mississauga’s Celebration Square to see Art on the Screens, an event featuring short stories on wide screens. All the stories were detailed, often with lyrical and animated ballads. Some stories had English subtitles that were at times coupled with a nonsensical track.

The ones that stuck out to me were these three short animated stories. The first one was cleverly named the “Bear Story” and it featured anthropomorphic bears along with a wide range of other animals. With its multi-faceted backgrounds and the animators’ use of seemingly basic elements, this story left me stunned. The unusual camera techniques and angles helped convey emotions that are native to humanity. Truly this film is one you cannot bear to miss.

The second short story that caught my attention was titled “Diane is strange.” This film encapsulated the prejudice we normalize and conform to as social beings. This film focused on chauvinistic social norms and gender constructs. The film documented the importance sex has on an individual’s gender identity and how these taught ideas can create damaging relationships. “Diane is strange” showcased, not only how arbitrary our gender roles are, but how these stereotypes can harm an individual’s personality.

The last one, entitled “The Gift”, featured a unique blend between experimental music and art. The use of unusual color palettes enabled the film to explore themes surrounding isolation and absences as one gets older. The film chronicled the lifestyle of an organism from being co-dependent to mutating into something completely independent. It also led me to the epiphany of how the human experience can also be a blend of co-dependency and independency. As children, we are dependent on our parents. However, as we grow older, we start to become more independent. The film communicated this with the use of contrasting perceptions that showed accounts of what it’s like to be human.

With all the twists and turns that life contains, the enigmatic storyline of “The Gift” showed how we can lose clarity of purpose throughout our lifetime. However, the film offered hope when it suggested that life can grant the ability to resolve itself in the end. The film suggested that the irregular pieces of one’s chaotic life will somehow fit together until you see a bigger picture one day.

The overarching feature that all the films tried to convey was empathy—something innately human. Empathy towards another’s suffering, perseverance, and overcoming obstacles, are all such simple ideas when written out. But when presented with music, as is the case Art on the Screens, it is truly a bewitching sight.