At the BAFTAs award ceremony on Sunday, March 13, 2022, the winner of the Best Animation Short was announced as Do Not Feed the Pigeons.
It isn’t every day that pigeons make the headlines in a non-avian way, but our favorite birds became the talk of the town and there wasn’t a single complaint about pigeon poop as the coveted prize was presented to the producer, Jordi Morera.
Beating out a shortlist of stiff competition, ‘Do Not Feed The Pigeons’ award has added to its already stellar reputation with previous wins at both the Discover London Film Festival and This Is England Film Festival.
So, what’s all the fuss about? We took a look at the nine-minute-long short to see exactly why this pigeon-focused film has been garnering so much praise this awards season.
Watch the trailer here:
‘Do Not Feed the Pigeons’ tells a succinct story of a moment in time at a melancholy coach station in the small hours of the morning.
Surrounded by nosey, snack-hunting pigeons, a collection of weary travelers are waiting for the final bus of the night, only to find that the vehicle’s arrival has been indefinitely delayed.
Tired and lonely, each traveler is dealing with their own annoying inconveniences from a screaming baby to a distressed pet cat in a carrier to being a little too drunk to function.
All in all, the emotions of the passengers combined with the grey tones of the aesthetic and the quite literally flat nature of the paper cut-out animation style, the mood of the coach station is one of great sombreness and separation between the antisocial and insular group of people who are in a very familiar and though totally relatable, absolutely undesirable situation.
That is, of course, until the resident pigeons decide to take matters into their own hands.
After a gust of wind blows open the doors of the coach station, a flock of pigeons rushes in and proceeds to flood the ceiling of the building with an awe-inspiring spiral chase.
This breaks the disparate travelers out of their individual reveries, and for one brief but magical moment, they become united in viewing a spectacle of nature that forces them to stop and actually connect with one another.
The incident is over in a matter of seconds, but the pigeons have performed a vital function in the narrative of the story, changing the tone in an instant from one of deliberate isolation among the characters to deliberate togetherness.
In the moments before the spectacle, the travelers have only regarded the snack-hunting pigeons as an inconvenience, shooing them away at every opportunity.
However, after the magical moment of flying has occurred, the pigeons are now seen not as an annoyance, but rather as a symbol of the joyful surprise of nature.
The delayed bus arrives shortly after this event, and the travelers soon return to their own individual pursuits, but one for one fleeting moment, they are all forced to come together to marvel at the power and beauty of what nature can do.
The choice by filmmakers Antonin Niclass (director) and Vladimir Krasilnikov (writer) to have this attitude-changing moment be the result of pigeons is an inspired one.
It changes the perception of urban pigeons from birds to avoid at all costs to birds that can and should be celebrated for their own special place in city life and culture.
For just a few moments at 2 am in a coach station, the pigeons are treated with the same awestruck reverence as a golden eagle and that emotion is something to embrace, love and admire.
Watch the moment they were awarded their BAFTA here: