Netflix recently released a 12-min short film that needed no words to bring the world to tears. If Anything Happens, I Love You (2020) is an animated silent film that brings to light, once again, a critical and sensitive matter that has paralyzed America, most especially the young and innocent, time and time again. Since one of the deadliest mass shootings that occurred in Sandy Hook Elementary School, killing 20 children, there have been at least 2,654 deplorable mass shootings that followed.
Gun violence has been at the heart of the political debate for more than a decade now, yet little or nothing has been done to put a stop to it. But society has had enough and has taken matters into their own hands by raising awareness through demonstrations, social media, donating to gun-control organizations, calling out politicians who support the NRA, and now, advocating further through the power of film and TV.
Giving Justice to the Ones Left Behind
Will McCormack (Toy Story 4, The Office, The Sopranos) and Michael Govier (Space for Rent, Best Friends Forever) are the brains behind this impeccable, tear-jerking, and heart-rending film. It tells the story of a grieving couple struggling to come to terms with the passing of their daughter who was a victim of a merciless school shooting. In the middle of the chaos, their daughter sends a final text to her mother uttering the last words “If anything happens, I love you,” revealing the powerful yet painful meaning behind the title.
While this particular story is fiction, it is inspired by true events that American families have dealt with and continue to experience on a daily basis. What should primarily be a safe haven or fun learning environment for their children has become a sickening place of violence, hatred, and injustice. The filmmakers articulated in an interview that this film aims to honor the parents who have lost their children to gun violence as well as acknowledge their pain and courage as they grieve and heal through the process. It was built upon the essence of the saying “When your parents die, you bury them in the ground. But when your child dies, you bury them in your heart.”
While this particular story is fiction, it is inspired by true events that American families have dealt with
Since this is a sensitive matter to discuss, the filmmakers wanted to give it justice by thoroughly researching and consulting Everytown for Gun Safety, an American nonprofit organization advocating for gun control and against gun violence, to the extent that it almost took a year to get the short script in its best shape. Despite the heavy and heartbreaking nature behind the film, it imparts a sense of hope and positivity by emphasizing the human spirit and its ability to be resilient, enduring, and to keep going forward.
This animation was beautifully executed by a team of powerful women, from the director to the animator to the composer – a feat in the male-dominated world of animation. “Every moment and every drawing are filled with such deep empathy and tenderness. To see this new day and a new generation of artists who lead with the truth with what they want to express without needing to be anything but pure artists,” said Executive Producer and award-winning actress, Laura Dern.
In a short span of time, this film has already sparked conversations as well as encouraged people to face and share their personal experiences with grief and loss, which they wouldn’t have otherwise had the courage to do so until after seeing the film.
Taking It to the World Stage
If Anything Happens, I Love You (2020) is one of the animated short films that Netflix is championing for an Oscar and Annie awards consideration in this upcoming awards season. This is an astonishing achievement as Netflix in theory doesn’t have a designated division for short films, more so for animation. This film is at the forefront of this exciting change and the filmmakers are thrilled to share this revolutionary story.
Their primary goal was to take this film to a world stage where everyone can see the horrific nightmare that has corrupted and taken the lives of innocent souls in America in hopes of inspiring people to take the necessary concrete actions to put this issue to rest. The filmmakers voiced that through animation; a powerful tool to bring to life intimate and real emotions people experience in these circumstances, and no one could do a greater job of bringing it to a global audience than the streaming giant, Netflix.
More than anything, they yearn to see other platforms follow suit and give the warranted recognition and support for independent films. This goes to show that short films have the same power, if not more, as feature-length films to incite movements, connect people from all over the world, and create social change. This is a reminder that our support or initiative to take action, no matter how big or small, would definitely make all the difference.