Billy's Balloon

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Billy's Balloon
Scene from the film in which a child looks up at a red balloon.
Directed by Don Hertzfeldt
Produced by Don Hertzfeldt
Written by Don Hertzfeldt
Cinematography Rebecca Moline
Edited by Rebecca Moline
Bitter Films
Release date
  • October 1998 (1998-October)
Running time
6 minutes
Country United States

Billy's Balloon is a 16mm animated short by Don Hertzfeldt. It was his 4th and final student film at UC Santa Barbara. Similar to his other cartoons, he utilizes a minimalist stick-figure technique.

The film was invited into Official Competition at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival (where Hertzfeldt was the youngest director involved), and it won the Grand Jury Award at the 1999 Slamdance Film Festival.[1]

On top of its film festival runs (and popularity among internet bootleggers), the short has also appeared on Adult Swim and MTV in the US and on a number of international TV broadcasts around the world. Hertzfeldt has noted that the short's international popularity is likely because it has no dialogue and plays like a silent film.


A stick figure toddler (presumably named Billy) is repeatedly attacked by his red balloon. No explanation for how or why the balloon is doing so is ever given. Similar events are shown to be occurring with other children as the short progresses. The story is considered a parody of French film director Albert Lamorisse's 1956 short film Le ballon rouge.

There have been many interpretations on what themes the short represents, but Hertzfeldt intentionally avoids talking about them, as to not invalidate the personal experiences the audience has with the film.[2]

Home media[edit]

Billy's Balloon is featured on the DVD, "Bitter Films Volume 1", a compilation of Don Hertzfeldt's short films from 1995-2005 that is available exclusively at the Bitter Films website. Special features included for Billy's Balloon are Hertzfeldt's original pencil tests, production sketches, notes, and deleted ideas from the film.


External links[edit]