Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

"The stills don't do it justice, movement is the thing."

In other circumstances, you would be marvelling at the textures of this animated short. The touchable quality of the ocean shoreline, the tactile wetness of the surf, the way the sand falls in grains off the sandpipers that are its central characters, so real you feel you could almost brush them off the screen. The stills don't do it justice, movement is the thing.

You give all this a thought, briefly, but then you're swept up by the story and the Piper of the title, a recently hatched chick who is getting his first taste of the big wide world beyond the sand dunes. Everything about him, from his rapid breathing to downy feathers is cute as a button and baby-like, all bird and yet with a depth of childlike inquisitive emotion.

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This is no stroll on the beach. If Piper wants to eat then he has to learn and that takes bravery. Director Alan Barillaro has been working on Pixar shorts since 1998 A Bug's Life and though this is his first time as director, it doesn't feel like it - there are no false moments and nothing that doesn't serve the story and characters. Piper encapsulates that sense of adventure felt by children when they experience something new but also the feelings of trepidation and fear that can come with learning that not everything is 100 per cent safe. Like the best Pixar films, this one works for those with years on the planet and those who are new to it.

To a child, Piper is a brave adventurer with a good line in slapstick pratfalls, in the case of adults, he reminds us how important it is to try to look at the world with fresh eyes - you never know what you might discover.

Reviewed on: 01 Jul 2016
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A baby bird learns how to catch food on the shoreline.

Director: Alan Barillaro

Year: 2016

Runtime: 6 minutes

Country: US


EIFF 2016

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