Animation Short



7 min
Original Language
Country of Production

Alexander Gratzer
Voice (Guard) 

Johannes Forster
Voices (Birds & Polar Bears)

Alexander Gratzer
Animation & Layout 

Alexander Gratzer
Music & Sounddesign

Alexander Gratzer

Interfilm Berlin

Apfelmus was shown at 150 Festivals worldwide.

Apfelmus received 28 awards and was nominated for the Best Austrian Shortfilm in 2020.
                A review by Michiel Philippaerts (Talking shorts)

“Alexander Gratzers ‘Apfelmus’ seems to be a direct commentary on a very specific and age-old human feeling of Sehnsucht: “Oh, imagine the joy of being an animal: having no one to answer to but our primary instincts.” No more stress, no more questions, no more nights of staring up at the unforgiving ceiling with a head full of existential dread. It would be a wonderful life, wouldn’t it? The Austrian director, however, seems to suggest we might be mistaken.

Two birds, resting in their large nest in a tree, reflect on the disappointments of “being a bird" – their knees drawn up to their chest as little children. "To me the whole thing feels very inauthentic," one mumbles when the other brings up ‘freedom’, the empty concept frequently attributed to birds. "I can't let go of the feeling that I'm just playing a part." Meandering guitar chords on the soundtrack lend the philosophical conversation a certain mystery, while the colorful pencil-drawn animation transports the viewer to fairytale territory. Difficult questions are met with a wandering look – or worse, indifferent whistling and chirping.

The director expertly utilizes the single-panel melancholy of Roy Andersson, though, while his characters are just as desperate as those of the meister of deadpan humour, the notes Gratzer hits feel decidedly more Austrian than Nordic. He leads us through three vignettes (birds, humans, polar bears): the bookending chapters marked by a weirdly calming atmosphere that’s nonetheless injected by anxiety, the middle being a droll musical intermezzo. At first glance this comical centerpiece looks to be giving everything away, but there’s more to ‘the joke’ than it seems. Despite the fact that Gratzer doesn’t exactly withhold the punchline, the way everything is set up feels unique and satisfying.

‘Apfelmus’ is therefore a weird little film. One that seems deceptively small conceptually, but manages to capture its audience through its bizarre charm and low-key absurdism. Like in life, questions remain unanswered. Having said that, there might be some solace in the freeing simplicity of preparing apple mousse: “You just have to wash, peel, cut, and mash it. The apple.” Instructions don’t get much clearer.”


Interview about Apfelmus (German)

Kritik (German)

Orf Bericht über Apfelmus (German)

Diploma text about Apfelmus
(Author Alexander Gratzer, German)


Awards (selection)
- Nomination for best austrian short film of the year, 2020
- Cinanima (Portugal) Best short film award, 2019
- Anibar Animation Festival (Kosovo), Student Competition winner, 2019
- Sehsüchte Filmfestival Babelsberg (Germany), Best Animated Film, 2020
- Monstronale (Germany), Second Prize International Competition, 2020
- Interfilm Festival Berlin: Eject Award for most weird and wonderful film, 2019
- Filmfestival Kaufbeuren (Germany), Most Innovative Film, 2019
- Poetry Filmfestival (Austria), Best Film, 2019
- Vienna Shorts (Austria), Audience Award for austrian film under 10 min, 2019
- Animation Festival Volda (Finland), Audience Award, 2019
- Shortynale Filmfestival (Austria): Best Austrian Film and Audience Award, 2019
- Thalmässing  Filmfestival (Germany), Audience Award, 2019
- Juvinale Filmfestival (Austria), Best Animated Film, 2019
- Supertoon Animation Festival (Croatia), Special mention, 2019
- New Chitose Film Festival (Japan), Special mention, 2019
- Fest for new directors(Portugal), Special Mention, 2019
- Varna Animation Festival (Bulgaria), Special mention, 2019

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All images © Alexander Gratzer
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