This year, short films about immigration and border patrol have been hot on the film festival circuit. Some shorts are furious, some thoughtful, some informational, some emotional. While lacking in information, The Office of Missing Children appeals to the emotional side of the debate. Using well drawn horror-fueled animatics, Michael Schiller tells a gloomy and short story of one child who was forcibly removed from his parents after being captured through immigration.
It’s well done, and engineered to hit you in the heart, but there’s something lacking here. The short doesn’t have details about what’s within the walls of this office. It doesn’t go into many specifics, even in its animated fever dream style. With only 7 minutes, including credits, Schiller uses much of the time to capture the mood and the fear without having any hard evidence or factual stories. There are no photos or even illustrations, like what accompanied Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez’s visit to the camps. There aren’t details about lice or dirt. Through this film, the office becomes a gateway of hardship, but one that is easily passed through.
I present this because I think the immigration issue is important (I have since the passing of the PATRIOT Act) and the animation is well done for what it is. But, I also present a plea for something more thoughtful than this, which, to me, is almost the equivalent of a 500 word article on immigration and camps. But, I wish these shorts did more than what it does. I wish they weren’t so ahistoric. But, there’s only so much you can put into a short.