CLASSICS OF CHINESE ANIMATION
When Liu Jian’s HAVE A NICE DAY premiered this year to international acclaim, much of the clamor around the film centered around questions of social critique and censorship, especially after reports that it was “forced” to withdraw from the prestigious Annecy International Animated Film Festival in France. Such pronouncements about the film as a dangerous property are easy to make by western critics who have a bone to pick with the Chinese government and who feel comfortable dishing out hot takes that can bracket off the history of Chinese animation as an industry, genre, ideological vehicle, and cultural tradition.
On the occasion of HAVE A NICE DAY, we present two classics of Chinese animation from the Mao era. Like Liu Jian’s 2017 film, these are animated works that use the 2D format to evoke the interrelations between the social, the fantastic, and the political. Animation becomes an apt form to bring together humans, animals, and spirits, a surprising mixture given the anti-feudal requirements of popular culture at the time. These films show the limits of the socialist realist model, and the analytical importance of not only content but also audience – in this case, kids.
Both family-friendly short films are presented in new digital restorations and are preceded by a short lecture by Colgate University professor Sean Macdonald, whose book Animation in China: History, Aesthetics, Media was just released in a paperback edition this year. –Brian Hu
Co-Presented by: Chinese School of San Diego
In This Program
PIGSY EATS WATERMELON
Wan Laiming, Wan Guchan / China / 1958This Wan Brothers' paper-cut classic imagines the Monkey King and Pigsy searching for a meal along their journey to the west.
THE LITTLE SISTERS OF THE GRASSLAND
Qian Yunda, Tang Cheng / China / 1965Two young sisters in Inner Mongolia will stop at nothing to protect their family’s flock of over 300 sheep, and not even a snow storm can stand in their way.