Cops and Robbers

Chemical Soup, Lawrence Bender Productions, Netflix

Timothy Ware-Hill and Arnon Manor’s animated short film, Cops and Robbers, demands you hold the nostalgic implications of its title alongside its more mature connotations. As the Ware-Hill poem that gives the piece its title stresses, the make-believe of the childhood game evoked rings differently for young Black kids whose interactions with police officers do not make for such lighthearted play. Ruminating on his younger years, Ware-Hill paints a portrait of the innocence young Black boys like him are seldom afforded. “I want to go back to when we used milk crates for basketball hoops,” Ware-Hill says, in between breaths, as he jogs toward the camera, “When hands up, don’t shoot was for when people was blocking my jump shots.” But if the poem centers on his singular memories, the animated visuals that accompany it, produced by 30 individual artists, students and VFX companies from around the world, encompass just as many distinct animated styles throughout, speaking to a shared lived experience. For crafting a timely, kaleidoscopic collective ode to interrupted Black childhoods that brims with righteous urgency and welcome tenderness, Cops and Robbers deserves a Peabody.