Anna Mantzaris directs The New Normal, a moving short that tributes awkward reunions this Christmas

It’s a term that we came to dislike immensely during the pandemic but one that Passion Pictures has positively embraced for their traditional in-house animated Christmas film, producing a comedic but moving short, The New Normal, directed by Anna Mantzaris.

Reflecting on the impact the last two years has had on all of us and our personal relationships, the film takes Anna’s signature style to once again tackle a subject that could be difficult to broach. The story focuses on a young man, arriving home for Christmas with his family, awkwardly trying out various socially-distant greetings with his father before settling on a hug.

It’s a moment we’ve either all experienced or can anticipate, how comfortable will we feel hugging our loved ones, maybe for the first time in a long time? “Even in today’s open society, sharing personal anxieties and struggles can feel difficult,” says Passion, explaining why it has chosen to partner with The New Normal for this year’s film.

The New Normal is a peer-to-peer support charity that connects people through their grief and mental health. Founded in 2018, the organisation feels that the best form of therapy is to talk to others with similar life experiences. It runs a diverse range of free, open and non-judgemental spaces to talk, and if you would prefer, listen.

“Grief is an incredibly isolating thing,” says Ben May, co-founder of The New Normal. “When we experience severe trauma we often feel we are completely alone however we believe that if there is one, there is two. Connecting people together shows you there are others who understand how you feel and are empathetic to your circumstances. It’s a wonderful way to explore what you are going through and better understand your journey.”

The New Normal is certainly short but very sweet and, no, that wasn’t a tear you saw in our eye. It’s been a difficult year for us all, so if you need to speak to someone or you’d like to donate to The New Normal charity to help others, visit

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