HANGZHOU, China, Feb. 1, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — It was announced on February 1st, 2023 that the Chinese animated film Art College 1994 has been selected for the Competition section in the 73rd Berlinale. The news came as a pleasant surprise as it was the final film shortlisted in the annual international film festival. This marked a new record for the Chinese animated film industry.
Directed by Liu Jian, a professor at China Academy of Art’s School of Animation and Games, and produced by a team of teachers and students over a span of five years, the film is a significant creative and pedagogical product of China Academy of Art’s pursuit of “neorealistic animation”. The Academy has yielded fruitful results in recent years, with student work taking centerstage and winning recognition at local and international film festivals. Graduation films such as Hippocampus and A Dog Under Bridge garnered the most prestigious awards at the Festival International du Film d’Animation d’Annecy for graduation films. Shortlisted in the Berlinale Competition section, which is widely regarded as one of the three top film festivals in the world, Art College 1994 once again showcased the education and creative competencies of China Academy of Art’s School of Animation and Games.
Art College 1994 is a unique 2D hand-drawn animated film with aesthetics that exhibits distinctive Chinese elements. Its director began his education in Chinese paintings. Well versed in the domain, Prof. Liu employed techniques found in Chinese paintings groundbreakingly. The result is scenes and characters that are undisputedly, authentically Chinese and of an aesthetic style distinguishable from American and Japanese animation.
With its detailed art, realism, and comfortable pacing, the film provides a different aesthetic experience that diverges from the usual spectacle of traditional animated films and stands out among Chinese animations. It has broadened the variety of Chinese animated films available on the market as well as the themes they explore, and is a sign of growing diversity in a thriving Chinese animation sector.
Art College 1994 tells a story that takes place in an art school in the 1990s. Amidst the clash of idealism vs. reality as well as tradition vs. modernity, a group of youths live their lives to the fullest as they pursue art and their dreams, form strong friendships and fall in love. A unique tale of youth is painted under the brush of a distinctive narrative and aesthetic style.
The early 1990s marked the advent of the modern arts in China, when new artistic ideologies flooded the minds of young people who were passionate about the arts, inspiring and confounding them alike. Seeming naive and childish, their relentless quest for and attempts to gain answers are nevertheless rooted in authenticity and earnestness that move us. Art College 1994 is a “song of youth” that is dedicated to all artists. The art education themes that are explored in the film remain relevant today.
When asked why he made the film, Prof. Liu said,
“In 2016, I returned to my alma mater. It was been over 20 years since I left the place. A row of new, tidy buildings of steel and concrete stood like a wall between the past and the present, cleaving my memories into two. I heard someone call my name then. I turned around, and saw my former teacher. His hair had gone white. He was standing next to a couple of young students who were laughing. Suddenly, I was struck by the harsh reality of time. That was when the seed of the movie was sowed in my head. I joined China Academy of Art and became a teacher after that, which gave me new ideas for Art College 1994.It isn’t a nostalgic film, but one that celebrates the beauty of life and art with every young person and every young soul hidden within an old person.I want it to be a song that is loud and earnest, that reaches deep into every young soul, and sings praises of their courage and vitality.”
The 73rd Berlinale will officially kick off on February 16, 2023. Art College 1994 will have its premiere at the festival. The film currently boasts a diverse voice-acting cast which includes directors Jia Zhangke, Zheng Dasheng, and Xu Lei, film producer Wang Hongwei, musicians Peng Lei and Ren Ke, academic Xu Zhiyuan, and founder of Modern Sky and Strawberry Music Festival Shen Lihui. Upcoming announcements of celebrated actors joining the cast will be made soon.
The film is scheduled to be screened across China in 2023.
SOURCE China Academy of Art