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Pixar’s new short stars a swearing ball of feminist yarn

The cheery, pink yarn ball is an allegory for something deeper

Petrana Radulovic is an entertainment reporter specializing in animation, fandom culture, theme parks, Disney, and young adult fantasy franchises.

“Purl,” the first film out of Pixar’s SparkShorts program, is about a ball of yarn trying to keep a job. But it’s also so much more.

The short follows the bright pink ball of yarn named Purl as she arrives at a male-dominated company (titled B.R.O. Capital) and tries to fit in. But in a quest to be one of the boys, she might just lose part of her own identity. Pixar always delivers themes and messages meant not just for children, but for people of all ages, but “Purl” packs a bit of a heavier punch — and it’s not just because Purl swears at one point.

In a ”meet the filmmakers” clip, director Kristen Lester and producer Gillian Libbert-Duncan discuss the motivation for telling this particular story.

“It’s based on my experience being in animation,” Lester said. “My first job, I was like the only woman in the room, and so in order to do the thing that I loved, I sort of became one of the guys. And then I came to Pixar, and I started to work on teams with women for the first time, and that actually made me realize how much of the female aspect of myself I had sort of buried and left behind.”

While Lester speaks highly of Pixar — and indeed, the SparkShorts program is designed to showcase stories from new voices with new techniques — Pixar itself came under fire last year — not just because company legend John Lasseter left the company after allegations of sexual misconduct, but also because of an essay by a former employee from the art department about the very male-dominated workplace culture that the animation company fostered.

The full list of shorts under the SparkShorts program can be found on Pixar’s website. Two more are set to release this month: “Smash and Grab,” a robot love story, will premiere on Feb. 11; and “Kitbull,” a story about a pitbull and a kitten, will be available on Feb. 18.

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