14 minutes





Humanoid animals sing through their existential angst in this madcap short

Lonely fish that walk upright. Rodents that tap-dance through the fast-food night shift. Telemarketing monkeys who (mostly) stick to the script. These are some of the characters who inhabit the unforgettable world of the Swedish director Niki Lindroth von Bahr’s short film The Burden (2017). Existing on a small, free-floating slice of Earth defined by freeways, drab buildings and streetlights, these anthropomorphs sing and sway their way through some of the dullest aspects of modern life. It’s all a bit unnerving, as viewers are likely to find at least a few fragments of themselves in these uncanny creatures.

While dreariness permeates the piece, there’s also an endearing absurdity to it all. In the meticulously constructed stop-motion sequences, the animals convey subtle emotions with small eye movements and hand gestures. Each scene brims with dark humour and revels in its weirdness – perhaps none more so than the sequence starring the monkeys, whose call-centre refrains (‘Try our satisfaction guarantee?’) culminate in a Broadway-worthy big number. Indeed, at least one of the songs is likely to rattle around in your head for days. Ultimately, existential angst, personal insecurity and the drudgeries of capitalism have never been quite so entertaining.

Director: Niki Lindroth von Bahr

Producer: Kalle Wettre, Malade