Every year at TED, we curate a program of short films to play between speakers and set the mood. The massive screens in the TED2017 theater made for spectacular viewing. What we’re looking at here is our opening video, created by Alec Donovan. Photo: Marla Aufmuth/TED

TED is about speakers stepping on a stage and sharing an idea in 18 minutes or less. But throughout our annual conference, short films play a vital part in the program too — opening sessions and providing moments of pause, reflection and laughter between talks.

The short films shown during the conference are selected by Anyssa Samari and Jonathan Wells, who talk to filmmakers and scour the internet year-round to find the right pieces. “We’re looking for artful treatments of topics,” says Samari. “The films we show are usually around 60 seconds, so it has to communicate an idea visually in a small fraction of time.”

Below, the short films that showed over the course of TED2017.


The short: Desiigner’s “PANDA” featuring Taylor Hatala & Kyndall Harris. A duo of teenage dance prodigies slay a hip-hop performance.
The creators: Directed by Tim Milgram. Choreography by Antoine Troupe.
Shown during: Session 1, “One Move Ahead”


The short: Kraftwerk’s “The Robots.” The classic 1977 video from the band that blazed the trail in electronic music.
The creators: Kraftwerk
Shown during: Session 2, “Our Robotic Overlords”


The short: “Laws of Robotics.” The legendary sci-fi writer’s words prove eerily relevant in our debates on artificial intelligence today.
The creators: BBC Horizon
Shown during: Session 2, “Our Robotic Overlords”


The short: “Kenzo World.” A woman lets her inner dance machine lose in this viral Kenzo fragrance ad.
The creators: Directed by Spike Jonze
Shown during: Session 3, “The Human Response”


The short: “Simone Giertz and Her Ingenious Robot Helpers.” These dinky makeshift robots will surely add more time to your morning routine.
The creators: Directed by Simone Giertz
Shown during: Session 3, “The Human Response”


The short: Paralympics “We’re The Superhumans.” This 3-minute trailer for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games is a beautiful portrayal of endless determination.
The creators: Production Company, Blink. Directed by Dougal Wilson. Agency, 4Creative. Executive Creative Directors, Chris Bovill and John Allison.
Shown during: Session 4, “Health, Life, Love”


The short: “2D RUN – MMP 3 (Mixed Motion Project).” Parkour is amazing to watch any time you see it. But in this top-down view, it becomes a surreal, like a nonstop video game.
The creators: Stunts and direction by Ilko ‘ill’ Iliev
Shown during: Session 5, “Mind, Meaning”


The short: “Preposterous – A short about absurdity.” In these delightful scenes, things are not as you expect.
The creators: Directed by Florent Porta
Shown during: Session 5, “Mind, Meaning”


The short: “Pulse.” A stunning timelapse that captures the serenity and power of a storm.
The creators: Directed by Mike Olbinski
Shown during: Session 6, “Planet, Protection”


The short: Jain’s “Makeba.” Born in France and raised in the United Arab Emirates and The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Jain’s music video is an exploration of black and white.
The creators: Directed by Greg and Lio
Shown during: Session 7, “Connection, Community”


The short: “Despicable Me 2 — The Stars are Brighter!” How many minions does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Find out here.
The creators: Illumination Entertainment
Shown during: Session 7, “Connection, Community”


The short: Max Cooper’s “Order from Chaos.” An incredible explosion of color and shape, inspired by raindrops.
The creators: Directed by Maxime Causeret
Shown during: Session 8, “Bugs and Bodies”


The short: “Tadpole Development Time Lapse.” A tadpole zygote develops to the point where you can see its eyes and gills.
The creators: Francis Chee Films
Shown during: Session 8, “Bugs and Bodies”


The short: Samsung “Ostrich.” An ostrich sees the open skies via virtual reality, and becomes determined to take flight.
The creators: Directed by Matthijis Van Heinjningen. Production Company, MJZ. Agency, Leo Burnett Chicago.
Shown during: Session 8, “Bugs and Bodies”


The short: “Act of Love – Animal Courtships Performed by Humans.” What happens when people dance the intricate courtship dances of animals.
The creators: Directed by Koichiro Tanaka.
Shown in: Session 9, “It’s Personal”


The short: “Ten Meter Tower.” People face their fears at the top of the highest diving platform. Would you jump?
The creators: Directed by Maximilian Van Aertryck and Axel Danielson.
Shown during: Session 9, “It’s Personal”


The short: “Manta Ray” by J. Ralph & Anohni. The universe of plankton in a single teaspoon of ocean water.
The creators: By J. Ralph & Anohni. From the documentary Racing Extinction.
Shown during: Session 10, “Tales of Tomorrow”


The short: “Moonlight x Alvin Ailey.” A lyrical dance inspired by the film Moonlight.
The creators: Directed by Anna Rose Holmer. Choreographed by Robert Battle, Artistic Director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
Shown during: Session 10, “Tales of Tomorrow”


The short: “Danielle.” Don’t blink, or you’ll miss the aging process at work.
The creators: Directed by Anthony Cerniello. Onstage, it was accompanied by a live score from Paul Cantelon.
Shown during: Session 10, “Tales of Tomorrow”


The short: “2016 AICP Sponsor Reel.” An infectious dance from characters with unusual body compositions.
The creators: Concept, Design and Direction by Method Studios. Directed by Rupert Burton. Creative Director, Jon Noorlander Music: Major Lazer “Light it Up” (Remix).
Shown during: Session 11, “The Future Us”


The short: “
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Author: Kate Torgovnick May

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