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Animation Film | NFTS | 2020

Meow or Never

Directed & Written by

Neeraja Raj

In a whimsical musical adventure, Pucha, the 'catstronaut', explores the cosmos in search of life's meaning with her AI spaceship. Landing on a planet with high hopes, she encounters Blip, a space-pup eager to assist. However, Blip's enthusiasm sends the spaceship astray, sparking a comical quest. As Pucha navigates a diverse world, meeting various creatures and ideologies, she learns that life's meaning is complex, far beyond her initial calculations.

Director's Statement

Meow or Never is a whimsical blend of my existential ponderings and carefree spirit, born from my desire to craft a stop-motion animation musical narrating an unlikely friendship. It's a heartfelt ode to my closest friends. The film delves into the enduring power of friendship, suggesting that life's meaning is subjective and shaped by the connections we value. My hope is for Meow or Never to be a film that lingers in the audience's heart, with a tune that hums long after the lights fade.

Production History

Created during my 18-month 'Masters in Directing Animation' at the National Film & Television School, UK, the film was inspired from my watercolour art. Characters came to life through puppet armatures amidst seven paper-world sets. Musical geniuses Sheila Atim MBE and Jayne Wisener voiced the characters, and our dedicated crew blended stop-frame animation, VFX, and 2D elements to craft a beautiful tale of friendship.

Behind the scenes


  • BAFTA Student Film Awards Shortlist (LA, May '20)

  • Women in Animation Best Film (Int'l, Sept '20)

  • MPSE Golden Reel Awards Nominee – Sound Editing (Verna Fields Award) (US, Apr '21)

  • SILVER at Young Director Award in Animation (Cannes Lions, France, Jun '21)

  • BFI Future Film Festival Nominee - Best Film, Best Writer, Best Animation (UK, Feb '21)

  • British Independent Film Awards Longlist – Best British Short Film (UK, Nov '20)

  • Animayo Special Mention – Best Soundtrack (Spain, May '21)

  • Digicon6 Asia Silver Award – Best Technique (Tokyo, Nov '20)

  • British Animation Awards Nominee – Best Short Film (London, Mar '22)

  • Public Choice Award at Festival Stop Motion Montréal (Canada, Sept '21)

  • Blue Planet Sci-Fi Film Festival Best Sci-Fi Script (Nanjing, China, Dec '20)

  • Payot Petit Black Movie Award (Geneva, Switzerland, Jan '21)

  • ANIMEX Best Student Stop-motion Animation Award (UK, May '21)

  • 16th Busan Kids and Youth Film Festival 'Heart-on Award' (South Korea, Jul '21)

  • The TV Fest Best Original Score, Shortlist for Best Animation (Canada, Aug '21)

  • Anim!Arte International Maxi Contest Runner-Up Winner (Brazil, Jun '21)

  • Cineaste Film Festival of India Best Animation Film Award (India, Dec '20)

  • Austin Film Festival Animated Short Jury Honorable Mention (USA, Oct '20)

  • GAGARIN.DOC Open Festival Grand-Prix Award (Russia, Apr '21)

  • Cinemagic Film Festival Highly Commended Short Animation (Ireland, Oct '20)

  • Light Grey Art Lab Senior Show High-Five Scholarship (US, May '20)

  • Watersprite Cambridge Student Festival Nominee – Production Design, Original Film Music, Sound Design Awards (UK, Mar '21)

Festivals Selections

  • World Premiere at Sitges Int'l Film Festival Oscar®-Qualifying (Spain, Oct '20)

  • US Premiere at Austin Film Festival Oscar®-Qualifying (US, Oct '20)

  • Animest Int'l Film Festival Oscar®-Qualifying (Romania, Nov '20)

  • SIGGRAPH Asia Oscar®-Qualifying (South Korea, Dec '20)

  • 38th Chicago Int'l Children’s Film Festival Oscar®-Qualifying (US, Nov '21)

  • Animayo Int'l Film Festival Oscar®-Qualifying (Spain, May '21)

  • Cinanima Int'l Animated Film Festival Oscar®-Qualifying (Portugal, Nov '21)

  • Angers Premier Plans Film Festival, Chenaplans (France, Jan '22)

  • St Kilda Festival Oscar®-Qualifying (Australia, May '22) - Special Mention Award

  • BFI Future Film Festival (London, Feb '21)

  • Norwich Film Festival BAFTA-Qualifying (UK, Nov '21)

  • Flickers Rhode Island Int'l Film Festival Oscar®-Qualifying (US, Aug '21)

  • Cleveland Int'l Film Festival Oscar®-Qualifying (Ohio, USA, Apr '22)

  • Black Movie Festival (Geneva, Switzerland, Jan '21)

  • San Diego Int'l ShortsFest (US, Jun '21)

  • Kaboom Film Festival Oscar®-Qualifying (Netherlands, Apr '21)

  • Mo & Friese Kinder KurzFilm Festival (Hamburg, May '21)

  • Manchester Animation Festival (UK, Nov '20)

  • Tokyo Anime Film Festival (Japan, Mar '21)

  • Watersprite Int'l Student Festival '21 (UK, Mar '21)

  • 22nd Digicon6 Asia Awards (Tokyo, Nov '20)

  • Anim!Arte Int'l Student Animation Festival (Brazil, Jun '21)

  • Festival Stop Motion Montreal (Canada, Sept '21)

  • Busan Int'l Kids and Youth Film Festival (South Korea, Jul '21)

  • La Guarimba Film Festival (Italy, Aug '21)

  • New Chitose Airport Int'l Animation Festival (Japan, Nov '20)

  • Animateka Int'l Animated Film Festival (Slovenia, Dec '20)

  • Indie-AniFest (South Korea, Sept '21)

  • YOUKI Int'l Youth Media Festival (Austria, Nov '21)

  • NFFTY (National Film Festival for Talented Youth) (Seattle, USA, Apr '22)

  • Paris Int'l Animation Film Festival (Paris, Jan '22)

  • MIFF (Mumbai Int'l Film Festival) (India, Jun '22)

   ...and more, 90+ festivals and counting!


Production: National Film & Television School

Directed & Animated: Neeraja Raj

Producer: Diana Põdra

Screenwriters: Vanessa Rose, Neeraja Raj

Cinematographer: Nathalie Pitters

Production Designer: Ann Kutzer

Editor: Ed Coltman

Composer: Cora Miron

Sound Designer: Harry J.N. Parsons

Online Editor & Colourist: Michael Pearce

Production Manager: Lára Theódóra Kettler

Production Coordinator: Pia Kaiser

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