(Click the image or this link to watch Blind Vaysha for free this week only.)

Theodore Ushev’s Blind Vaysha has already been praised by essentially every animation outlet out there, and is a serious contender for the Best Animated Short Oscar this weekend, so I’m not sure what I can really add here aside from saying that it deserves all of the acclaim its received. The visuals, which are digitally drawn to imitate woodcut prints (I couldn’t help thinking of Lynd Ward), are remarkable enough. Ushev makes masterful use of the sharp angles and bold contrasts of the medium he’s imitating, and his compositions look unlike anything else in independent animation. If Vaysha were only a stylistic exercise, it’d still be worth recommending.

But it’s the story that really hits home. Moralistic in the way that the best folk tales are, Vaysha’s story (taken from a book by Bulgarian poet Georgi Gospodinov) is an easy metaphor to grasp but a harder one to internalize. To ignore the present in favour of root causes and predictions is blindness; without a view of what’s here now, the past and the future have no purpose. Ushev’s film is a meaningful cultural commentary presented through a simple visual metaphor; watch it while you can at the NFB.

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