Recently, scholar Olga Bobrowska published a review titled with Farewell to the Rooster: Chinese Animation in the 2017 Season on Zippy Frames. The author reviews the most recent achievements of Chinese mainland animators by the examples of films and new media works recognized in the Western festival circuit in 2017.
The year of the Rooster was symbolic for the Chinese animation. Exactly 50 years earlier this art has been officially endowed with specific ideological goals and definitions what has determined aesthetic, technical and communication pursuits of Chinese animators. The mass and alternative production landscape has completely changed ever since and the author focuses on the current points of arrival of these changes. An honorable presence of Chinese animation at the Annecy Festival in June 2017 adds to the significance of the past year. Annecy held insightful historical and contemporary film retrospectives and exhibition, and large industry pavilion at Mifa market. Yet the presentation was accompanied with the controversies stirred by the withdrawal of Liu Jian‘s Have a Nice Day from the feature-length competition programme. The film was available for the large European audience at other festivals in the same season. Liu Jian’s impressive work that is based in reduced visuals, provides an intellectually stimulating take on contemporary Chinese society subjected to absurd “three freedoms”, these are freedom of farmer, of supermarket, of on-line shopping, all of which eventually neutralize individuals’ ability to select, choose and criticize.
The author notices a phenomenon that can be named as a “First Independent Generation”, i.e. a wide group of the artists born throughout 1970s and 1980s who, similarly to the pioneers of the early days of Shanghai Animation Film Studio, explore possibilities of animation and new technologies with a great dedication to the working process, and remain eager to revive cultural richness of the historical momentum they experience. It can be argued that this generation attempts to rework the concept of “minzu” (national) style. This achievement of the Chinese animators of the past resulted in development of unique animation techniques (above others, ink-and-wash painting animation) and may be understood as an innovation in terms of poetics and aesthetics rooted in the cultural traditions of classic China and its folk cultures, but also as a state of mind of the artists and the spectators, a readiness to enjoy and enliven tricks, attractions and romanticism of the silver screen, despite of any experienced hardships, traumas, disillusionment, pain. Among the “First Independent Generation” the author mentions Sun Xun, Lei Lei, Wang Haiyang, Ye Linghan, Geng Xue, Ding Shiwei, Wu Chao, Xia Weilun, Wu Juehui, Shen Jie, Mi Chai, Qiu Anxiong, Xue Yanping, Chen Xi and recently deceased An Xu.
The author discusses artistic pursuits of Lei Lei, Wu Chao and Xia Weilun into the realm of new media, as well as the exhibition practices they instigate in order to convey ambiguous perspectives on subjectivity, remembrance and one’s ability to perceive and experience empathy. It is also worth to underline independent Chinese artists’ interest in mixed realities. Eventually the author notes mainstream studios attempts to revoke “minzu” quality in productions such as Big Fish and Begonia.
The full aritcle could be read at http://www.zippyframes.com/index.php/reviews/farewell-to-the-rooster-chinese-animation-in-the-season-2017
Olga Bobrowska bio
Born in 1987. She is a Ph.D. candidate in Film Studies at Jagiellonian University, Kraków, specialized in classic Chinese animated film and an author of academic articles on the subjects of Polish and Chinese animation. She is a festival director and co-founder of StopTrik International Film Festival (Maribor, Slovenia; Lodz, Poland), a festival dedicated to stop motion animation. She frequently collaborates with other festivals, among them Animateka (Ljubljana), Etiuda&Anima (Krakow), Krakow Film Festival. Film programmes she curated were presented at various festivals and events in e.g. Poland, Slovenia, Croatia, The Netherlands, Finland and China. Her reviews and critiques were published in Polish magazine “Kino” and international animation magazine “Zippy Frames”. In 2016 she co-edited the monograph “Obsession Perversion Rebellion. Twisted Dreams