• Country: Germany
  • Initial release: April 22, 2014 (Germany)
  • Film Director: Jacob Frey
  • Running Time: 4 Minutes
  • IMDB Grade: 7.5

In 2014, Jacob Frey created a heartwarming short animation called “The Present.” This touching film tells the story of a young boy who receives a special gift from his mother – a puppy. However, the boy’s initial reaction to the puppy’s disability sets the stage for a transformative journey of acceptance and understanding. “The Present” has garnered critical acclaim, winning over 50 awards and screening at more than 180 film festivals worldwide. In this article, we will delve into the inspiration behind the film, its production process, and the valuable lessons it imparts.

The Genesis of “The Present”

“The Present” is based on a comic strip titled “Perfection” by Brazilian artist Fabio Coala Cavalcanti. Originally published in 2012, the comic strip caught the attention of Jacob Frey, who was inspired to bring this heartwarming story to life through animation. As a thesis project at the Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg in Germany, Frey wrote, directed, and animated the entire short film, showcasing his talent and passion for storytelling.

The Storyline

The story of “The Present” revolves around a young boy who is engrossed in playing video games. Despite the beautiful weather outside, he prefers the virtual world to real-life interactions. In an effort to encourage him to explore the outdoors, his mother surprises him with a gift – a puppy. However, the boy’s initial excitement quickly turns to disappointment upon discovering that the puppy is missing a leg. This revelation sparks a range of emotions, including anger and disgust. Nonetheless, the resilient and determined puppy begins to win the boy’s heart, leading them on a journey of companionship and acceptance.

The Impact of Disabilities

One of the central themes explored in “The Present” is the impact of disabilities. The boy’s initial reaction to the puppy’s missing leg highlights the common prejudice and misconceptions that people may have towards individuals with disabilities. By portraying the boy’s transformation from rejection to acceptance, the film emphasizes the importance of empathy, understanding, and inclusivity.

The Production Process

“The Present” was created using a combination of 3D animation techniques and software. Frey utilized Maya, a popular animation software, to build and animate the characters and scenes. The rendering was done using Pixar Renderman, a powerful rendering software widely used in the animation industry. Additionally, Yeti Fur was employed to create the realistic fur on the puppy. The production process took over a year, showcasing the dedication and attention to detail that went into bringing this heartwarming story to life.

Critical Acclaim and Festival Success

“The Present” has received widespread acclaim, earning recognition at numerous film festivals around the world. With over 50 awards to its name, including the prestigious Best Animated Short Film at the 2015 Annie Awards, the film has captivated audiences with its emotional storytelling and stunning animation. Its success on the festival circuit is a testament to the universal appeal and resonance of the film’s themes.

Lessons and Teaching Ideas

“The Present” offers valuable lessons that can be explored in an educational setting. Teachers can use the film as a catalyst for discussions on empathy, inclusivity, and the impact of disabilities. Here are some teaching ideas inspired by “The Present”:

  1. Write a Diary/Recount: Invite students to write a diary entry or recount from the perspective of the young boy in the film. They can explore his initial feelings towards the puppy and how his perception changes over time.
  2. Rewrite as a 3rd Person Narrative: Encourage students to rewrite the story as a third-person narrative, focusing on narrative writing skills such as description and dialogue. This exercise allows them to delve deeper into the thoughts and emotions of the characters.
  3. Discuss the Boy’s Feelings: Engage students in a discussion about why the boy feels the way he does about the dog. Encourage them to reflect on their own experiences and how initial judgments can be challenged and changed.
  4. Explore the Mother’s Perspective: Prompt students to imagine a dialogue between the boy’s mother and the pet shop owner, where the mother explains why she chose that specific dog for her son. This activity encourages students to consider the motivations and intentions behind the mother’s choice.
  5. Comparisons with Other Films: Encourage students to compare the boy in “The Present” with the boy in another film, such as “Replay.” Discuss how each character perceives themselves and how they are treated by others.
  6. The Treatment of Disability: Explore how the character in “Wing” is treated differently because of his disability. Discuss the importance of inclusivity and the role society plays in accepting and supporting individuals with disabilities.

1 Film Review

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  • “The Present” is a heartwarming short animation that tackles the themes of empathy, acceptance, and the impact of disabilities. Jacob Frey’s talent as a filmmaker shines through in this emotionally charged story that has resonated with audiences worldwide. Through its stunning animation and powerful narrative, “The Present” reminds us of the importance of understanding and embracing differences, ultimately teaching us the value of empathy and compassion.