It was a different kind of Christmas Season this year…again. In an animated Christmas Card for Passion Pictures, Anna Mantzaris reflects on the pandemic’s impact to our lives and personal relationships over the last two years through the lens of yet another weird holiday. Aptly named, The New Normal, the film employs Anna’s signature style to confront a difficult subject with grace.

The New Normal features a young man, arriving home for Christmas with his family, awkwardly trying out various socially-distant greetings, before settling on a hug. We’ve all been there in some form or another, which is why Passion has chosen to partner with the New Normal Charity for this year’s film. “I came up with the idea,” Mantzaris told us, “but it was still very much a collaboration (with Passion) throughout the process.”

“I didn’t want to make just a traditional Christmas card that could be from any year. These past years have been very different, I wanted to acknowledge that and do something that felt special for our time now. So, I came up with the story about someone returning home after a long time, and for it to be an awkward but very warm reunion. I shot it in my studio in Stockholm, but working closely with Passion.”

The end-result is a touching validation to an experience that we are all trying to wrap our thoughts around of late. We asked Mantzaris if the process was as smooth as the end result. “The project was quite limited with time and budget,” she said, “so it was mainly about making it work with small means. But I think it went pretty smoothly, no big challenges except that our studio had a creepy rat-invasion!”

According to Passion Studios, “The New Normal is a peer-to-peer support charity that connects people through their grief and mental health. Founded in 2018 they feel that the best form of therapy is to talk to others with similar life experiences. TNN runs a diverse range of free, open and non-judgmental spaces to talk, and if you would prefer, to listen.”
To find out more about the charity and, if you can, to donate visit

For more on the production, see the bus stills below:

Director Anna Mantzaris
Music & Sound Phil Brookes
Modelmaking Malin Guiistrand
Puppet Costumes Martha Mantzaris
Puppet & Animation Anna Mantzaris
Postproduction Hugo Vieites Caamano
Cinemtography Advisor Donna Wade
Additional Modelmaking Isabel Fahlen
Producers Sam Gray & Becky Perryman
Executive Producers Andrew Ruhemann, Belle Palmer & Debbie Crosscup
Special Thanks to Saskia Burke & Johan Edström