This article will explore what it means to be grateful through the examples of short films. Thanksgiving animation and live action films can be very motivating as they can inspire you to do your best to help others. This article will discuss 5 short films that are definitely worth your time to watch on this great holiday!

What does it mean to be grateful?

This question seems to be very simple, but it also can require a deep contemplation to grasp the magnitude of this phenomenon. In such an article, we are way too short of space to elaborate on all philosophical aspects of gratefulness. The feeling of being grateful is a complex one as it is tied up to such grand abstractions as love, care, friendship, devotion, and loyalty. People can be grateful for very different things, and how they experience this feeling is very unique.

However, cinematography often makes it easier to communicate complex issues with very little means. It is especially true when we talk about the format of a short film. It is efficient in conveying profound emotions and telling interesting stories in a matter of minutes. So, let’s dive deeper into our list of 5 short films that will encourage you to help others and feel grateful. Some of these films are classics, some of them are rarely heard of, but they are all definitely worth your time!

1. 3000 Miles (2017)

We decided to put this Thanksgiving documentary film on the first place in our list. Despite that we don’t rank our short films in any order, 3000 Miles is certainly our favorite in this listing. This film by Sean Wang, picked as a Vimeo Best of the Year, could really be called the gratitude movie. This short Thanksgiving documentary describes one year in the life of a young man who moves out of his hometown and goes to settle for a new life in New York. Captivating cinematography is paired with the voiceover that is made from voicemail messages that the author’s mother sent him during that year. Mixed together, they create a touching story about gratitude that is really inspirational in every sense. This short movie can serve as an example of heart-warming, beautiful storytelling that evokes a feeling of being grateful for who you are, where you come from, and how people can stay connected with each other even 3000 miles away.

2. Molly’s Piligrim (1985)

Here is some classic short movie from the 80s. Directed by Jeffrey D. Brown, Molly’s Piligrim is an adaptation of a popular children’s book written by Barbara Cohen. It is one of those short films for kids that could be enjoyed by the whole family on Thanksgiving evening. This short feature tells a story of a young girl Molly, who is a Russian immigrant. With Thanksgiving fast approaching, her class in school is given an assignment to tell about this holiday. Molly decides to tell her classmates about her vision of Thanksgiving, and her interpretation strikes the imagination. This short film is a 1986 Oscar winner in the Best Short Subject, so you should at least give it a try. Enjoyment is guaranteed as this short movie is excellently executed in every aspect.

3. SOAR (2014)

Speaking of Thanksgiving animation, it is essential to mention this short animated movie. It might not be as popular or famous as some animated short films from Pixar, and that’s why we strongly recommend you to watch it. Actually, this list is more of a suggestion to explore something new than a “top 5 best Thanksgiving movies”. So, what’s the plot of SOAR? Without any spoilers, this movie tells a story about a girl who wants to help a little pilot who crashes and cannot launch his airplane without her help. The style of SOAR resembles Pixar short videos to an extent, and that’s why it will be enjoyable to watch it with kids. In just six minutes, this film manages to achieve an effect of standard feature film in terms of emotional response and storytelling. It is a heart-touching and whimsical short film that you’re going to fall in love with!

Soar | Featured Short Film

4. A Celebration (2019)

Moving on from more lighthearted pieces of art, it is also essential to list a good dramatic short film here. We are talking about A Celebration directed by Mahsa Razavi, which is featured in the IFFC shortlist. This short drama describes the Thanksgiving celebration in a family of immigrants, which resonates with the topic of Molly’s Pilgrim mentioned earlier. The main character of this story is Ada who is an 8-year old girl. She wants to cook a traditional Thanksgiving dinner by cooking a turkey with her mother like a true Canadian. The film explores the topics of immigration and gratitude in a very interesting, somewhat poignant manner. We understand that watching a drama, even in the short form, on a Thanksgiving evening is not for everyone. But still, we encourage you to give it a try because it is a great exploration of different themes related to what it means to be grateful.

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5. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973)

This is, undoubtedly, one of those short films which are true classics equally loved by kids and adults. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is a part of an animated television series based on Peanuts, a famous comics book written by Charles M. Schulz. This piece of classic Thanksgiving animation has received wide critical acclaim since its release in 1973. It is also an Emmy Award winner, so it is difficult to doubt the high artistic qualities of this short film. We guess that almost everyone would recognize the iconic and beloved characters from this short animated movie. This film’s main focus is on the most traditional way of spending Thanksgiving with family and friends. It is funny, witty, and lighthearted, so it is very pleasant to watch. In case you haven’t seen this Thanksgiving animation masterpiece, it should definitely be on your to-watch list. And if you haven’t seen this in a long time, it is essential to rewatch it on this 2020 Thanksgiving evening.

It’s great to be grateful!

Not all the movies on our list are directly related to Thanksgiving as not all of them have traditional attributes of this holiday such turkey dinner and so on. However, all of them deal with the topic of being grateful and showing gratitude to others in different ways. It doesn’t really matter what you’re up to on this holiday: working long hours, spending time in a traffic jam playing in Webbyslot, coming home to share a turkey dinner with others or to save it all for yourself — it is essential to find time to show gratitude to the world around you.