Nona is Pixar’s latest short in its Sparkshorts film series, a program that lets Pixar employees develop and create their own short films to foster the company’s next generation of filmmakers. The results have been stellar so far and Nona is no exception.
Directed by Louis Gonzales, Nona depicts a day in the life of a wrestling-loving grandmother. Anticipating a great day of watching her favorite wrestling program, a pastime she shared with her late husband, the titular Nona is in for a surprise when her grandaughter spends the day her. According to Gonzales in an interview we did with him:
I’ve always had this concept of a grandma that loved wrestling. I’m an older guy in animation and I was seeing a lot of younger, hungrier, up-and-coming artists. I had this real connection to the idea of an older lady whose life hadn’t passed by but is on the cusp of that. That felt like it called to my attention. That’s where the story started.
Nona is brimming with wholesome punk rock energy. From the music down to its pulsating sense of fun, this short is one that will leave a smile on your face. And like all great Pixar shorts and films, Nona gets a ton of emotional mileage out of a seemingly innocuous premise. Beneath all that crazy energy is a truly heartwarming vignette of life, love, and memory. With all that in mind, it isn’t surprising how personal the story is for Gonzales:
I don’t know how to tell a story that isn’t personal. Even when I’m storyboarding for other directors, there has to be a personal component. Otherwise, there’s no truth in it. If there’s no truth, audiences aren’t going to connect with it. My short is filled with my truth. It’s filled with people I love that inspired these characters and stories.
Short films are synonymous with that nostalgic Pixar viewing experience. Even going back to that iconic chess short from the 90s, Pixar shorts are truly special. Producer Courtney Casper Kent also briefly talked about these shorts get made and what makes a good Pixar short like Nona.
I feel like where you start isn’t necessarily where you end up. That’s true with every short I’ve worked on [laughs]. It’s about telling the story that people can connect to and continuing to refine that to keep it honest. I feel like this story getting told at this point in time when people are presented with more challenges like having more family around than usual and having to balance that with work. I think that only enhanced the story and make it all of the things we are always looking for in a Pixar short.