We don’t do anything alone in this world, but sometimes we do have a tendency to forget it until those who’ve helped us have disappeared. This is the message behind Andrew Chesworth and Bobby Pontillas‘ One Small Step, the sweetly told journey of a young Chinese American girl dreaming of space from a cardboard box shuttle with her Dad in the backseat. The filmmakers move us forward through the years with that flight of fantasy becoming an adolescent mission. From ear-to-ear smile in moon boots jumping on the bed to the pensive dedication of a teen hitting the books to no avail, we see how nothing is worth doing if it isn’t still fun. Sometimes as adults we must rediscover why we pursued our paths in the first place.
Think of it as a mix of fellow animated short nominee Bao and the vastly underrated feature First Man with time separating father and daughter until the space between can no longer be bridged by anything other than the memory of love and its propulsive ability to pull Luna further than her isolation ever could. As she detached herself from family life, her father kept to his routine. He gave her the space to grow and discover what was necessary for her to succeed, but never gave up on the hope of one day finding her in her seat like the past months and years apart were but a dream. And while the final result might be bittersweet, it’s no less heartwarming or resonant. He was there when she wasn’t and he’ll remain despite being gone.