I've just watched a movie that is my strong favorite of all those I've seen this year, and which has earned a place in my lifetime top ten. It's animated, it's only fifteen minutes long (of which two are credits) and it's free. It's called Sintel, and you should stop what you're doing and go watch it right now. (While you can see the whole thing on YouTube, it is well worth the download of one of the full-res versions. If you must go the YouTube route, at the very least choose one of the higher resolutions.)

More spoiler-free images and discussions after the jump.

Made using free software (chiefly the Blender 3D content creation suite), Sintel was created as part of the Durian open movie project. It has been released under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license, meaning you can share and remix it freely, so long as proper credit is given to the original creators.

Most importantly, though, it's got a wonderful, nuanced story. There's not a lot I can say about it without getting spoiler-y, but in fifteen minutes they manage to create characters with real depth and a complex narrative arc. Everything else is, as it should be, in service to the story: the art, the (fantastic, original) music, all of the technical wizardry.

There isn't a lot of talking in Sintel, but the voice acting is surprisingly good. (It isn't that the characters don't have a lot to say; they're just saying most of it in non-verbal ways.)

Additional information and critical review can be found at IMDB.

If you can, please support these guys by pre-ordering the DVD set. (The masters have been sent to the printer; the expected ship date is 22 October 2010.)

Update: Movie posters are now available. The "Squee!" lamp is now lit in all authorized spaces.

Update: The complete musical score is available for download, in FLAC or MP3 format. And an album cover. And a music video. And a lead sheet for "I Move On".

Update: The poster is exactly 70x100cm. If you are in the US and are having trouble finding a frame the right size, try Ikea; they sell metric-sized poster frames that are cheap and really quite nice. (I didn't see the right one in their online catalog, or I'd link to it.)

(All images from the Sintel press kit, and are Copyright © Blender Foundation -- www.sintel.org. They are used here, unaltered, in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.)

[Updated 15 Oct 2010 by DGH to include link to posters.]

[Updated 22 Oct 2010 by DGH to include link to music download.]