SUMMARY: When two astronauts find themselves sharing just one tank of oxygen, they must endure the social awkwardness of one of them sacrificing themselves for the other.
WHY IT’S HERE: British animator Matthew Walker’s graduation film ‘Astronauts’ is a very funny short which transfers all the cringe-inducing humour of social awkwardness into a small spaceship. When one bored astronaut can’t resist pressing a big, red button on the console, he inadvertently jettisons one of the ship’s oxygen tanks and must then make the supreme sacrifice to save his friend. The problem is he’s not over-keen on leaving. The interaction between the two main characters is hilarious, especially during one long, awkward silence in which they are both wearing spacesuits. Although it begins with a large, beautiful lunar landscape, ‘Astronauts’ quickly confines itself to a claustrophobic space, as Walker is more interested in how these two inadequate explorers relate to each other than what might be out there in unchartered space. Amidst the priceless interactions, there are lots of little details to pick out. For instance, one of the astronauts is working on a crossword and a brief glimpse of the grid reveals that he has added his own box at the side in order to fit in an answer that doesn’t belong there!