What is the opposite of a gun? A classroom erupts into a war of words as students grapple with this seemingly simple question in Lisa LaBracio and Anna Samo’s adaptation of Brendan Constantine's “The Opposites Game”. Entirely hand-crafted by the two directors, the animation is drawn in a stop-motion-animated book that builds page-by-page to the ground-shaking answer being both sought and avoided.


Inspired by events in poet Brendan Constantine’s own classroom, “The Opposites Game” was written as a tribute, not only to his passionate young students, but to his friend Patricia Maisch who helped disarm the shooter in the

infamous Tucson shooting of 2011. Constantine first shared this poem at a gun violence prevention event organized by Maisch, and since that day, quotes have been emblazoned on the protest signs of students around the country. 

TED-Ed works with international animation filmmakers to produce mission-driven shorts that have garnered over two billion views since its founding in 2012. “The Opposites Game” is part of the series “There’s a Poem for That”, which aims to showcase living poets giving language to some of life’s most inexplicable moments.

“...[a] strong message and playful execution.”

Daniel Suljic

Director, AnimaFest Zagreb

“It is always a challenge to translate one masterpiece into another media. In “The Opposites Game”, the film, Anna Samo and Lisa LaBracio not only successfully turned Brendan Constantine’s poem into a beautiful animation but added new layers of understanding, strengthening a so needed message in these troubled times. The film had a great impact on the Anima Mundi 2019 audience and won a well-deserved prize.”

Cesar Coelho

Director, Anima Mundi

“A beautiful poem. Haven’t felt a story like that in quite some time.”

Rafael Casal

Writer (Blindspotting), Poet, Actor




festivals & screenings

Animafest Zagreb World Festival of Animation Film

Grand Competition, Short Film

June 2019, Croatia


Palm Springs International Shortfest

Official Selection

June 2019, Palm Springs, USA


Anima Mundi

Gallery Film Competition

July 2019, Brazil


SUPERTOON International Animation Festival

International Competition

July 2019, Croatia


Salute Your Shorts Film Festival

Official Selection

August 2019, Los Angeles, USA


Flux Screening Series at the Hammer Museum

August 2019, Los Angeles, USA


Warsaw Animation Film Festival


August/September 2019, Poland


Dumbo Film Festival

August 2019, New York, USA


Fantoche International Animation Festival


September 2019, Switzerland


Animanima International Animation Festival

Internation Competition

September 2019, Serbia


Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival

September 2019, Martha's Vineyard, USA


VarnaFest World Animated Film Festival


September 2019, Bulgaria


Raindance Film Festival

Official Selection

September 2019, London, UK


Festival Stop Motion Montreal

September 2019, Canada


Wuti Goes Idyllwild

September 2019, California, USA


Animation Block Party

September 2019, Brooklyn, USA

Encounters Film Festival

Official Selection

September 2019, Bristol, UK


Woodstock Film Festival

Official Selection

October 2019, Woodstock, USA


StopTrik International Film Festival

Official Selection

October 2019, Slovenia + Poland


Sweaty Eyeballs Animation Fest

Official Selection

October 2019, Baltimore, USA


ANIMAGE – International Animation Festival of Pernambuco

Official Selection

October 2019, Recife, Brazil



October 2019, New York, USA


Downtown LA Film Festival

Official Selection

October 2019, Los Angeles, USA


ReAnimania: International Animation Films and Comics Art Festival of Yerevan

Official Selection

October 2019, Armenia


Film Columbia Chatham

October 2019, New York, USA


Pittsburgh Shorts Film Festival

Official Selection

November 2019, Pittsburgh, USA


Interfilm Berlin International Short Film Festival

Official Selection

November 2019, Germany


Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival

Official Selection

November 2019, Colorado Springs, USA


Flensburg Short Film Festival

November 2019, Germany + Denmark


London Animation Festival

Official Selection

November/December 2019, London, UK


Leuven Short Film Festival

Official Selection

November/December 2019, Belgium


Best in Show Award
50th ASIFA East Animation Film Festival, New York City


Best Gallery Film

Anima Mundi 


Best Animated Short

Raindance Film Festival

Best Animated Short

Downtown Los Angeles Film Festival

Best Screenplay

Animage, International Animation Festival of Pernambuco

Honorable Mention

Woodstock Film Festival

Special Mention

StopTrik International Film Festival



Director, Animator

In 1994, Lisa decided to become an animator. She was 10 years old. While studying traditional animation at the School of Visual Arts in 2003, she began her animation career working as a production artist at Bill Plympton's animation studio. Lisa began teaching animation workshops after graduating, and in 2011, she traveled to the Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya as a visiting teaching artist on behalf of FilmAid International, where she conducted a six-week animation filmmaking workshop with the youth. Since then, she has taught over 100 stop-motion workshops in homeless shelters, halfway houses, community centers, as well as in traditional classroom settings.


Today, Lisa is an Animation Director at TED-Ed, the educational initiative of the renowned TED Conferences and TED Talks, whose mission is to capture and amplify the voices of great educators all over the world. As part of their small but wondrous team, Lisa directs, designs, and creates handmade animation to bring to life the invaluable lessons that these educators continue to share in order to serve our classrooms and our youth. Education remains the core focus of all of Lisa’s animation work, and she is secretly plotting to teach everyone on the planet to animate. 

Poet, Performer

Brendan Constantine is a nationally recognized poet based in Los Angeles. His work has appeared in many of the nation’s poetry standards, including Best American Poetry, Prairie Schooner, Tin House, Ploughshares, Virginia Quarterly, and Poem-a-Day. His first book, ‘Letters to Guns’ (2009 Red Hen Press) received wide acclaim and is now taught in schools across the country. His most recent collections are ‘Dementia, My Darling’ (2016) from Red Hen Press, and a chapbook ‘Bouncy Bounce’ (2018) from Blue Horse Press. Mr. Constantine has received support and commissions from the Getty Museum, James Irvine Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. A popular performer, Brendan has presented his work to audiences throughout the U.S. and Europe, also appearing on TED-Ed, NPR's All Things Considered, KPFK's Poet’s Café, numerous podcasts, and YouTube. He holds an MFA in poetry from Vermont College of Fine Arts and currently teaches at the Windward School. Since 2017 he has been working with speech pathologist Michael Biel to develop poetry workshops for people with Aphasia.

Director, Animator

Anna Samo was born in 1980 in Moscow, Russia. She wanted to become a clown or a secret agent and ended up becoming an animation filmmaker.

On her first job in Moscow, she scanned and colored hand drawn animation for director Ivan Maximov. For the first time she witnessed how thousands of separated drawings put together suddenly turn into a living character. She experienced the tickling feeling of surprise and wonder. This feeling has not left her ever since.

Anna studied animation in Moscow and Berlin. She was a master student with Professor Gil Alkabetz who encouraged her to create very personal work and to strive for her own authentic voice. As an independent filmmaker she uses a variety of analog animation techniques to create her own films.

With her husband and two kids Anna relocated to the US in 2013. Anna’s films have been screened and won awards at highly acclaimed film festivals around the globe such as Berlin Film Festival - Berlinale, Annecy Film Festival, Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Films, Animafest Zagreb, Aspen Shortsfest, Sundance and Palm Springs, among others. Anna lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.


Gerta Xhelo has dedicated her 15+ year career to recruiting independent filmmakers and producing meaningful stories across platforms, styles, and genres, giving artists around the world opportunity, exposure, and creative freedom in service of a larger message. 


Gerta is the current Director of Production at TED-Ed. Since joining in 2013, she has had the immense pleasure of co-curating and overseeing the visual and editorial production of 1000+ animated short films which have reached over 1.5 billion views worldwide and have been featured in dozens of animation festivals, including Annecy, Animafest Zagreb, Anima Mundi, ASIFA, etc. Prior to TED-Ed, she recruited and developed talent for The Mill, a global leader in visual effects. She is also a professor at The School of Visual Arts and Pratt University where she teaches young artists career strategies.


This animation is part of TED-Ed's series, "There's a Poem for That," which features animated interpretations of poems both old and new that give language to some of life's biggest feelings. Check out the full series here.


A film by Anna Samo & Lisa LaBracio A poem by Brendan Constantine Poem performed by Brendan Constantine Sound Design by Weston Fonger Animation & Design by Anna Samo & Lisa LaBracio Produced by Gerta Xhelo


Associate Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal Executive Creative Director Logan Smalley Executive Producer Stephanie Lo Producer Sarah Kay Special Thanks to Jessica Ruby & Tom Bergmann










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