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Daily Helping for November 30th, 2020 – Loop – Erica Milsom

A photo still of the two main characters, Renee and Marcus, in a canoe together in the short film Loop.

The Pixar SparkShorts collection continues to be the gift that keeps on giving. Today’s helping is the short film Loop, by Erica Milsom, which was groundbreaking for its portrayal of a non-verbal autistic character. It is also a beautiful example of the many different ways there are to communicate with others, and just how important those connections can be.

Loop is a fairly simple film to summarize. Two teenagers are paired together by their camp counsellor for the day’s canoeing activity. Marcus just wants to be out with the rest of the campers. Renee communicates primarily through the ringtone on her phone. Together, they learn to see the world through each other’s eyes, despite the many challenges they face to communicate with each other. But communicate they do, and I loved how the film took us on their journey through this process. Renee doesn’t experience the world in the same way as Marcus, and the same goes for him. Watching them eventually find common ground is nothing short of magical.

There is a lot to love about this film; the endearingly catchy ringtone chief among them. But I particularly loved the character of Marcus. This is a teenage boy who would clearly rather be off with the other kids, happily canoeing around the lake. But despite his hesitation at being paired with “that girl who doesn’t talk”, he never stops trying to forge a connection between them. He’s not always successful. He gets frustrated, and he makes mistakes. But he never stops trying. And in the end, they find a way to communicate that works for both of them. It is an astonishing level of empathy and kindness from a character so young. As we head into the final month of the year that was 2020, all I can say is that I hope we can all be a little bit more like Marcus.

Suggestions for artists I should check out? Please contact me with your ideas. I hope you enjoyed your daily helping of art!