Short film programs at major film festivals are a tricky animal, always struggling to draw attention away from the longer form material on display. And yet for those who dip in there are some absolute gems to find. And Laurent and David Nicolas' Black Holes is very definitely a gem.
A gorgeously stylized animated short meant to launch a further television series, Black Holes revolves around Dave Nicholson - the astronaut chosen to lead NASA's mission to Mars. Dave is everything you would expect a top level astronaut to be. Smooth. Confident. A little bit brash. Other than the mandatory visit to NASA proctologist Dr Fingers, Dave's life is pretty much perfect. Perfect, that is, until he meets the hyper intelligent melon that is his new partner.
Yes, you read that right. Dave's co-pilot is a melon. A canteloupe, by the looks of it. And the melon has soon invaded every aspect of Dave's life. It's more popular with the ladies. It's more popular with their bosses. It's re-designed Dave's space suit. It's re-designed Dave's house. And suddenly Dave experiences self-doubt for the very first time.
Built around a very European design aesthetic with a fabulous US based voice cast including William Fichtner and Steve Little, Black Holes does a marvelous job of maintaining its off kilter energy and building a surprisingly sympathetic cast of characters. The nods to scifi classics come regularly - 2001 is openly referenced as a plot point - but it is very much its own beast.
The talent on display here is enormously obvious and while Black Holes functions just fine as a stand alone short it's pretty much impossible not to hope they get to continue on with the planned series. There is a rich world here, one that will draw a sizeable and fiercely loyal cult, and I can't wait to go back.