A short film made by two MICA animation faculty members has earned a rare Oscar nomination for 2018 in the category of Best Animated Short Film.

“Negative Space” is a stop-motion film co-directed by Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata, both of whom teach animation at MICA and co-own the Clipper Mill-based studio Tiny Inventions. Their online synopsis for the film simply states, “My dad taught me how to pack,” which nearly matches the beginning of a poem of the same name by Ron Koertge about a boy who learned to bond with his traveling father by packing his suitcase for him.

Kuwahata told Variety in November that her father was an airline pilot, which made Koertge’s poem — the film’s inspiration — particularly relatable. “I remember my dad adjusting his watch precisely before leaving the house and I remember the packing list that he pinned to the wall of his study,” she told the magazine. “My most vivid childhood memories are connected with objects, textures, and ordinary routines.”

Porter, who is married to Kuwahata, added to Variety that the work “made me consider my own relationships and the small things that represent a big part of those connections.”

Porter and Kuwahata live in Baltimore, but filmed their short in France. It blew up during festival season last year, garnering dozens of awards and honorable mentions at film festivals around the world.

Other nominees for the Best Animated Short Film category this year include “Dear Basketball,” by Glen Keane and Kobe Bryant; “Garden Party,” by Victor Claire and Gabriel Grapperon; “Lou,” by Dave Mullins and Dana Murray; and “Revolting Rhymes,” by Jakob Schuh and Jan Lachauer.

As is custom, The Charles plans to screen all Oscar-nominated shorts starting Feb. 9, according to its website. Until then, watch the above trailer for a sneak peak.

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Ethan McLeod

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...